Not Tonight With John Sergeant, ITV1

by | May 22, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

It featured the marvelously dry John Sergeant.

What to say if you didn’t like it

An ailing mongrel doomed to being put down as it lurches decrepitly about its kennel seeking sustenance from the waste deposits of its superior satirical forbears.

What was good about it?

• The report on Leo Blair’s life as son of the Prime Minister had a few good ideas such as blurring and pixelating the child’s face, in the same way as neurotic tabloids do for any pictures involving minors, and Leo’s birthday party where he reshuffled his friends. Out went boring Nicky Raynsford etc.

• Will Smith’s report on how the Revenge of the Sith alludes to the corruption of US government. But the humour was slightly blunted by the fact that George Lucas was indeed partly inspired by his country’s telescopic tyranny when writing the script.

• John Sergeant was a promising host and struck an acute balance between acting as a straight presenter and spoof newscaster.

• The Look Welsh segment presented by John Sparkes as Barry Welsh. The punchlines were so glaring they blinded you as soon as the presenter’s mouth opened to start the gag. But Sparkes did a good parody of news reporters’ exaggerated hand gestures and the joke about how the Welsh language helped make people better had a spark of originality.

• Linda Smith: “Ever since cloaks and top hats moved out of fashion, you hardly ever see young women tied to railway lines.”

• Jeremy Hardy: “Prescott is tasked with shafting the workforce in their own accents.”

What was bad about it?

• There was too much factual information as though it assumes the show will be the first exposure to the week’s news for its viewers. The sketch in which Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s dispute over the Labour leadership is played out in a scrap between giant robots representing the pair was inventive but was needlessly accompanied by an over-detailed history of their feud. And wasn’t exactly up-to-the-minute topical.

• Whereas Bird And Fortune both enlighten and amuse in their imagined conversations between those in authority and skilfully weave into them fresh information and humour, Jeremy Hardy’s observations of the week’s politics was hindered by the laborious enunciation of information followed by a quip because by the time he’s reached the punchline you were already bored of the well-trodden topic he’d been twittering on about.

• Katherine Jakeways reporting on which mobile phone to use to best record your acts of teenage delinquency was another good idea hampered by too much information, this time about the handsets she was appraising.

• The breaking news sketch, which was returned to on about three occasions, was a poor imitation of The Day Today’s merciless lampoon of TV journalism in which Peter O’Hanrahanrahan’s reports were torn to shreds by Chris Morris’s dictatorial anchorman.

• Explaining the financial markets through Sudoku was yet another good idea that, inversely to other sketches, assumed too much knowledge on behalf of the viewer. Sudoku is a puzzle game in which numbers have to be strategically placed into boxes to achieve some sort of mathematical nirvana; unfortunately its intricacies are largely bewildering to those who don’t attend the kind of middle class dinner parties in which guests regularly have to chew their own toes to prevent themselves falling comatose through the neck-breakingly numbing conversation.

• One of the last items saw Sergeant discuss the week’s events with a panel of Jeremy Hardy, Linda Smith and Robert Bathurst. Hardy and Smith were both quite funny, but Bathurst seemed only to have been invited on to do an impression of Boris Johnson (whom he’s currently playing on the stage). But he refused to do so without the wig and failed to contribute anything else. Embarrassing.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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