fri 19/07/2024

Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights/ The Morgana Show, Channel 4 | reviews, news & interviews

Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights/ The Morgana Show, Channel 4

Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights/ The Morgana Show, Channel 4

Two new hit-and-miss sketch shows both need time to bed in

Frankie Boyle: His new TV show is a mix of sketches, stand-up and cartoons

Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights is an interesting beast. A mix of stand-up, sketches and cartoons, it’s neither fish nor fowl, but many will certainly find it foul - with the comic’s penchant for sexually explicit material, unPC humour and determinedly bad-taste jokes, it’s bound to upset some viewers. But that’s why Channel 4 poached him from the BBC in the first place and have put his name in the title.

His acerbic humour on Mock the Week gained a devoted following - but also the opprobrium of the BBC Trust over a number of offensive gags, after which it was only a matter of time before Boyle and the corporation would part company. Few who watched the Glaswegian on the panel show would have imagined that he harboured acting ambitions, but clearly Boyle has been hiding his thespian light under a bushel all these years. Who knew he liked dressing up and donning wigs and foreign accents?

Some of the sketches went on far too long and were just an indulgence - spoofs, for instance, of the 1980s American TV series Knight Rider (which I suspect most of us can barely remember) and the 1999 film The Green Mile (ditto). Both had a very clever idea as their starting point but ultimately lacked focus, as did a soap called Untitled Street, where political correctness had rendered it utterly bland. “I’ve got that thing you asked for," said one faceless, beige-dressed character, played by actor number one. "Adjective, adjective, verb," replied the identical actor number two.

But there were gems, in particular his George Michael’s Highway Code cartoon - in which a manoeuvre called wanking featured heavily, and the Iranian version of Loose Women, where the burka-clad presenters ended up dead, of course. I have always suspected there was a keen satirist lurking beneath Boyle’s potty-mouthed exterior, and these sketches - succinct, funny and subtle - went to support that view.

Overall, the hits just matched the misses, but the show felt padded out with the stand-up inserts, recorded before a studio audience - and anyone who has seen Boyle’s current live tour will have heard all that material before and perhaps feel short-changed. It was noticeable, even though some potentially offensive jokes about "Jap’s eyes" and “paedophile facilitator” the Pope were included, that Channel 4, after wooing Boyle away from prissy old Auntie Beeb, weren’t brave/foolish enough to broadcast his Baby Peter or Madeleine McCann “jokes” last night; I doubt they will any time during the show’s six-week run either.

Still, it will be interesting to see if Boyle (who is, unusually for a show of this type, the only writer credited) can keep up the pace. Sketch shows are a demanding beast, requiring dozens of original gags for each episode, and on this showing he will have his work cut out.

Comedy series need time to percolate and by the end of her run Robinson may have entered her stride

Another debutant last night was Morgana Robinson on The Morgana Show, described by Channel 4 as “a big and silly character-based comedy sketch show”. Robinson is barely known even within the comedy industry and this show was an extraordinary leap of faith for the broadcaster, and I’m not sure it is doing her any favours by pitching her straight on to the main channel with a series rather than giving her time to develop her undoubted talent with a one-off show on E4, as would normally happen. But comedy series need time to percolate and by the end of her six-episode run she may have entered her stride.

While much of last night’s material was promising, too many sketches - the sniping television co-presenters, a warring married couple, London Mayor Boris Johnson being a bit of a buffoon - have been done many times before and here lacked any new twists or insights, and her punchlines lacked oomph.

However, Robinson’s teenage would-be TV presenter Gilbert (already a star on YouTube) raised a smile by accidentally filming himself playing trouser billiards, as did her knowing spoof of Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue on The X Factor. But it was her spot-on Fearne Cotton, who spoke entirely in bombastic clichés, that was utterly brilliant and worth tuning in for alone.



Cardinal Burns. Attention to detail and the perfectly formed mini-stories

Come Fly With Me. The Little Britain stars take a blunt instrument to the aviation industry

That Mitchell and Webb Look. Intelligent sketch comedy that would have put a smile on Lord Reith's face

Tracey Ullman's Show. Brilliant and welcome return to British television

Watson & Oliver, BBC Two. Original writing and superb acting bring a freshness to the form


Walliams & Friend. Little Britain star limps back to sketch comedy with a new guest every week

‘I have always suspected there was a keen satirist lurking beneath Boyle’s potty-mouthed exterior’

Share this article


The impression of Fearne Cotton was spot on. The sketch containing the Fearne Cotton was largely a shit knock off of Paul Whitehouse's 'brilliant' character in The Fast Show.

"American TV series Knight Rider (which I suspect most of us can barely remember) and the 1999 film The Green Mile (ditto)." I've learned something from this story, women are as useless at journalism as they are comedy. Barely remember Knight Rider, that's despite the recent worldwide return to prominence of the Hoff and the fact that they did a remake of it? Barely remember Green mile? The 300 million grossing multi award winning epic that is considered one of the best films ever made by many? How on earth did you get this gig? I'm serious if you can make a statement like than then how on earth did you do it? I think it's time your employers checked the validity of your CV! Absolutely appalling journalism and I shall never read a word you have written again.

I agree with Dave on this matter that you havnt a clue what you are talking about! How can you say that most cant remember Knight Rider or The Green Mile??? I mean a child could do this job better then you, clearly you have an issue with frankie as you slated him for repeating jokes that he using on his live tour, now quote me if im wrong but all comedians do this, a prime example is Lee Evans who will use the same jokes over and over again through out his tours. I would like to see you do stand up and come up with a new gag every time you are in front of a live audience.

Watched Frankie Boyle after reading the hype, I feel sorry for anyone who paid money to see this guy. Boyle is a second rate Bernard Manning without the wit and timing. The Morganna Show was equally as boring as Boyle, all been done before a whole lot better.

Boyle is clever, he realises the flakey cretins in the audience will gladly pay to feel superior to the disabled. Look at the audience what a crowd of thickos, some laughing from embarrassment and the others following like hyenas. Who cares if anyone remembers Knight Rider or the Green Mile, the show was crap. Boyle is full of pus and should be lanced.

cant remember knight rider but no doubt wear piss poor rehashes of 80s fashion whilst wanking about in hackney

Boyle is aiming to profit from been notorious now and it is working as most of his punters are not cynical enough to see his manipulation of the media. I don't find him funny at all.

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters