With the EU Referendum on the tip of everyone’s tongues, on every channel known to man and all over social media like a rash, this seemed an ideal programme to rip the proverbial out of the impending chaos. With a cast boasting Jack Dee, Amelia Bullmore (whom I personally loved in BBC One’s Twenty Twelve), Claire Skinner and Kevin McNally, I felt that Channel Four’s latest comedy series was going to be on to a winning formula.
In this follow up to Ballot Monkeys which was trotted out for the Elections last year, the format is unusual in itself as the majority of the script is written on the day to enable it to be as topical as can be. Therefore this first episode included the extension for voting registration and Muhammad Ali’s funeral among other news of the day.
There are a vast array of characters, some of which were well rounded and a few of whom made me snigger. Contrary to my preconception, nobody made me laugh out loud, I kept waiting for the moment that elicited the guffaw of all guffaws, and it didn’t come. That said, I do believe there is potential for the series.
Jack Dee is ideally cast as Oliver, who runs the Tory Unity Unit and is thoroughly cheesed off, who else could play that over-riding emotion with more spirit than Mr Dee? Andy Nyman reprises his role of Gerry and Ruby,played by Liz Kingsman is also back. I couldn’t help but see the funny side of Spencer played by Kevin McNally, sporting a waistcoat that Ginger Spice would be envious of and a ginger wig (which she may also be slightly jealous of, who knows?!). His to-ing and fro-ing from the ‘No Thank EU’ bus with a drill in his hand was simple yet inspired comedy and it would be a good gag to carry through.
If I had to pick favourites, my vote goes to the scenes on Trump’s campaign jet, where Amelia Bullmore (Lauren) and Robert Wilfort (Brett) are in the midst of making Trump more appealing to American women! I was particularly impressed with Wilfort, my memories of his previous performances mainly revolve around his role of Jason in the hit comedy show, Gavin and Stacey, so I was interested to watch and look forward to more from the debacle cabin!
In conclusion, I think I expected too much from the first episode and possibly set my own bar too high. I’m willing to give the series a go, if not only for the fact that most of the content is written on the day. Kudos to writers, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkins for originality and potentially some light relief from propaganda overload. To achieve a broadcast-worthy programme in such a short space of time you also need the perfect cast and crew, so pats on the back all round, there. I shall watch episode two with an open mind and hope to be impressed.