Watson and Oliver: also John Barrowman
Television comedy is a strange beast. At least, whenever new comedy shows come out I watch them with about even expectations of enjoyment and utter bafflement. On the whole I'm OK with sitcoms, whether we're talking big-budget Friends / Frasier stuff or more quirky British shows like Watching or Drop The Dead Donkey. Even with sitcoms some of the popular ones leave me cold though. The Office? Blackadder? Absolutely Fabulous? Nope, sorry. But it's sketch shows that usually pass me by on the other side, at least since The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise packed it in. Never liked Ben Elton, or any of the crew from The Young Ones. Nor French and Saunders, though Wood and Walters were OK.
Recently there has been much plugging in the TV press of a couple of new comedy shows, so I tried both. The first was Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy on E4. I watched an episode, and lasted (I think) forty seconds before switching off. First sketch was a man eating breakfast cereal and getting a phone call from a friend who turned out to have been the inventor of the aforementioned new breakfast cereal. Eating Man said how much he liked it whereupon Inventor Man explained how it was made from multi-coloured rabbit droppings, and that it had been really difficult developing diets for the rabbits to get their droppings to be different colours. Um, sorry, is that actually intended to be funny? You know, for anyone over the age of three? Scratch Noel Fielding and his Absent Comedy.
So it was with low expectations that I fired up iPlayer tonight to watch last week's first episode of Watson and Oliver. Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver have been described as following in the footsteps of French and Saunders: huh, thought I. I needn't have worried: they're really good, with sketches ranging from ones raising just a wry smile to full-on ROFL. Quite a few of the sketches are clearly being positioned to run each week with the same characters and different dialogue: a Wills and Kate sketch, a costume drama spoof, a cafe where everyone calls each other "darling": but they were all funny.
Best of all was the guest appearance of John Barrowman (star of more musicals than I can count, not to mention Torchwood and Doctor Who), discussing a duet Ingrid wanted to sing with him and plotting to keep Lorna from being shut out of it. there was a great running gag where they both kept kissing him, the joke of course being that he's famously gay. Anyway, here is that grand finale (readers in Britain can watch the whole show on iPlayer, but my American followers will have to be content with what's on Youtube).