mon 04/07/2022

Pete and Dud: The Lost Sketches, BBC Two/ British Grand Prix, BBC One | reviews, news & interviews

Pete and Dud: The Lost Sketches, BBC Two/ British Grand Prix, BBC One

Pete and Dud: The Lost Sketches, BBC Two/ British Grand Prix, BBC One

Jonathan Ross's laugh-in fails to rekindle the berserk spirit of Cook and Moore

Great comedy may be timeless, but that's probably because of the great comedians performing it as much as the material itself. Could you imagine Dad's Army being anything more than a shadow of its former self if it was remade with a new cast? Would Frasier achieve the same transcendent mix of bourgeois self-regard and millisecond farcical timing with James Corden and Mathew Horne in place of  Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce? Do we want to hear anybody reciting the "Dead Parrot Sketch" ever again?

Jonathan Ross's pretext for assembling a bevy of his comic chums to recreate rare sketches from the heyday of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore was that large chunks of their original Not Only...But Also shows from the 1960s had been erased by the BBC, apparently out of a quaint urge to save money by re-using the tapes. Nice idea, but you didn't have to be Prof Stephen Hawking to spot the yawning void in the plan. The sketches weren't being performed by Cook and Moore.
Instead, we had a rickety mix-and-match line-up including Adrian Edmondson, Angus Deayton, Alistair McGowan, Hugh Dennis, Nick Mohammed and Jonny Sweet (as well as the heroically named pianist Clifford Slapper), picking out some choice selections from the Cook/Moore oeuvre. A charitable person might describe the results as variable. Dennis and Edmondson hit a modestly diverting satirical groove in "The Scriptwriter", in which the titular character (a gruff, man-of-the-people Edmondson) bargained with a brainlessly pompous BBC producer over how many naughty words he could use in his script. Not all that naughty mind, because this was from 1970: "So that's a deal - seven bloodies, seven bums and three of the other." On the other hand, Edmondson and Sweet's stab at lampooning Sigmund Freud in "The Wardrobe" limped along weakly before flatlining altogether, while it was difficult to comprehend why anybody would want to resuscitate the feeble nonsense song "Isn't She a Sweetie" (McGowan and Mohammed drew the short straws here). Best of the bunch was "Father and Son", where Simon Day lent a bit of real weight to the disgruntled, sententious father grumbling about his effete boutique-owning son, only to be progressively revealed to be a moaning, freeloading old git. Overall though, the project felt like a lump of self-indulgent filler which Ross was using to pay off a contractual debt to the Corporation.
At least the Germans didn't win the World Cup, but amidst the triumphs of Spanish footballers and tennis players, and now even Bangladeshi cricketers, English sports fans have been scratching around pitifully for something to cheer about this summer. They finally got a little of what they needed from the British Grand Prix, in which McLaren's top Brit drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button salvaged semi-triumph from what had threatened to be a dismal weekend on their home turf at Silverstone.
Watch Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton build an F1 car without their team on YouTube
This is an odd season for F1-spotters. A batch of funny looking new teams with no money and drivers whose names you can't remember are propping up the back end of the grid, while the return of Michael Schumacher has seen the formerly ruthless Red Baron transformed into a wry and almost avuncular figure, bewildered as to why his Mercedes car won't go quicker and why lesser drivers keep overtaking him. Whatever, we should celebrate McLaren's accelerating charge towards the world championship, and we can feel quite proud of the way Button and Hamilton have (so far) suppressed the urge to take each other off the track in their lust for personal victory.
They make a pretty good double act too, gently taking the piss out of the indescribably ancient Murray Walker and performing a cosmically awful rendition of "Wonderwall" together. All of this is courtesy of the BBC's increasingly impressive F1 coverage, which is crammed with interesting features and interviews and, in anchorman Jake Humphrey, has discovered a real TV natural.

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