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Monday, 7 December 2009

Big Top, BBC1

They say don’t they whoever they happen to be that you should never judge a book by the cover. it’s the same with TV series except we change the well known phrase to you should never judge a TV series by its timeslot, cast and god awful premise. As a TV reviewer I should live and die by these guidelines but I must confess I was guilty of judging the BBC’s latest “comedy offering” Big Top as soon as it appeared in the listings magazine. To save you a painful half an hour you’ll never get back let me tell you what its about. Amanda Holden (Britain’s Got Talent) is the ringmaster at a circus which we are told is on its last legs. However because the jokes and cast are so painfully awful the production team have decided to make the down on its luck Circus all shiny and colourful as if to blind the audience with a rainbow. Holden isn’t completely to blame for the god awfulness of Big Top as an actress she can only deliver what she’s been given but she manages to deliver each so called punch line with the timing and enthusiasm of a children’s TV presenter doped up on Starbucks and sugar. She is joined by a caricature of circus performers including a husband and wife team of clowns, a foreign trapeze artist who has his eye on Holden’s character and a sarcastic lighting rigger played by once respected comedy actor Tony Robinson.

Perhaps the cast is the most puzzling thing about Big Top. Somehow (excluding Holden) it has managed to somehow attract proper comedic talent like Robinson, Ruth Madoc and John Thomson. Excluding the comedy (as there were so little of it its not really even worth discussing) the 7.30pm timeslot and the premise about a circus deemed this family viewing but surprisingly some of the “jokes” were crude and seemed unstable for the early billing.

Its completely understandable that TV companies are trying to make less expensive programming but in the case of Big Top perhaps if they’d spent more money on finding a writer who could write jokes as opposed to one who followed a comedy map that dictated every set up must be immediately followed by the punch line so as not to allow the audience to forget when to laugh and I suppose the shiny colours will help to keep them awake.

Sometimes as a TV reviewer you are forced to sit through awful programmes. Sometimes you are tortured and feel tempted to break your telly and sometimes you wonder why you enjoy TV at all In the case of Big Top all three were true. Without screaming and swearing its virtually impossible to convey how terrible Big Top is. Its also worrying that the BBC have placed their faith in tat like this when Lee Mack’s genuinely funny sitcom Not Going Out was cruelly and prematurely axed earlier this year. If at anytime over the festive period you find yourself accidently tuned into Big Top I have one recommendation. Take a tip from John Thomson’s clown and stick a pair of ferrets down your trousers. It will be more entertaining and less painful.


Anonymous said...

Not Going Out Rules, Only the christmas special left :(

Anonymous said...

I never realised 'Not going out' has been axed it was very very funny. Lee mack was true to form backed up by a confident cast. I have never been a big fan of holden but decided to give her the benefit. Comic timing is lost on this woman and she should stick to what she knows- overacting incredulous surprise on that god awful 'talent' show. Amen

Anonymous said...

terrible!... how did this ever get commissioned?!..
what did John sign up for this for??
Sorry Amanda, its a no from us......

Anonymous said...

I have only logged on to find some means of venting my spleen over the small pool of vomit which is 'Big Top' . I've watched a couple of episodes in passing over the last few weeks, thinking that Baldrick couldn't be involved in something so dire. But he is, and it is. Avoid at all costs.
PS I'm a bit miffed that my license fee is funding this garbage

Anonymous said...

Mindnumbingly bad, the BBC should be ashamed.

Anonymous said...

this has got to be the worst so called comedy show i have seen in years - i watched a whole episode just to see if i would laugh, i didn't. I have often being told that I will laugh at anything, but not this show. The BBC have been accused of dumbing down after Ross/Brand Gate, if this show is a result then this is the real fall-out of that radio show!!

miguel1948 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
miguel1948 said...

Dire. A thoroughly humourless script. Feeble and obvious jokes, wooden acting and terminally uninteresting characters. John Thomson is far too good for this puerile bilge. Whatever money the scriptwriters and perpetrators got for this, was far too much, and, I'm most upset to say; some of it was mine. The BBC brains behind this dismal enterprise should be ashamed of themselves, and pledge never to inflict such garbage on its paying patrons again

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