Did we like it?
This edition of Dara O’Briain’s series on comedy writing focused on the British attitude to sex in comedy and featured the work of Jonathan Harvey (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme). Though an interesting insight into his writing and the analysis of potential endings for a part-written script, it failed to cover either in enough depth and was akin to having a delicious starter and the main course not turning up.
What was good about it?
• The vintage clips of Dick Emery and the early Carry-Ons showcased how to pitch seaside postcard humour. Any excuse to show Dick Emery’s toothy vicar, or ‘Oooh you are awful!’ always goes down well with us.
• Kathy Burke’s refreshingly honest approach at the 2002 Comedy Awards to the critical reception given to Gimme, Gimme, Gimme by the gay press – “F*ck ‘em!” even made Jonathan Ross wince.
• Jonathan Harvey discussed with disarming frankness his career highs (Beautiful Thing and his writing for Coronation Street) and lows (Closest Thing to Heaven).
• The last quarter of the show devoted to the competition between four budding writers to finish a partly written Harvey script was an informative look at how comedy producers rate and dissect potential sitcoms. The winner may yet see their script turned into a pilot.
What was bad about it?
• The programme wasn’t particularly well-structured – flitting about from topic to topic and back again.
• The clips of Gimme, Gimme, Gimme proved once again how hit and miss the show was.
• The competition element quite often slipped into an “everyone’s a winner” mentality. Maybe all the scripts were of a high quality, but it just sounded somewhat trite.
• Neither of the two main features were covered in enough depth.