I was a little sceptical at first at whether this would work with the Pub Landlord character, partly as many chat shows where the host is in character end up being fairly tiresome. The character had already been a great success on the comedy circuit and a minor success as a sitcom - "Time Gentlemen Please" - it was going to be interesting to see how it faired in another format.
Al Murray's experience as a stand-up comedian really helps him out as he is able to ad-lib and engage with the audience in a way that is far superior to other more scripted chat-show hosts, whose attempts to warm the audience up at the start are often rather weak. The chat itself is a little lightweight, but it was more enjoyable than watching the guest squirm as endless questions about their sex-life are fired at them, as many hosts clearly think the audience are only interested in that aspect of their lives. Murray knows how far he can go before offending someone so he should avoid any storming off.
The only real problem is that being on ITV1 "Happy Hour" ends up being closer to 40 minutes due to advertisement breaks which means that the interviews end up feeling a little short. Al Murray also makes every guest musician play a Queen song as well as a piece of their own work so how much you enjoy that aspect will depend on how much of a Queen fan you are.
The guest list in the main looked on paper as though he had trouble getting in the 'A-list' but in the end it proved to be a blessing in disguise as he has people on his programme who haven't been on half a dozen other chat shows in the same week, done about the same in magazine interviews, and consequently run out of interesting things to say before their appearance. Having said this is going to failure to make a major impact in the ratings I suspect unless he is able to draw in the really big names in any future series.
Hopefully this will get re-commissioned as it really is a good deal more fun (and funny) than the overrated Johnathon Ross and Michael Parkinson.
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