herald

Friday 17 August 2018

Just cheap laughs

comedy showcase: the fun police (c4) the secret world of whitehall (bbc2)

With last week's Chickens proving to be a strong contender in Channel 4's annual Comedy Showcase showdown, the star power of two Inbetweeners (Simon Bird and Joe Thomas creating, writing and leading, along with show-stealing buddy, Johnny Sweet) in that poultry-themed WW1 piss take was matched -- if not surpassed -- in last night's offering, The Fun Police.

The words 'Vic' and 'Reeves' in the publicity material should have been warning enough as to the possibility of Milligan-esque silliness being proffered, and so it proves that Bob Mortimer's best mate goes off on a surrealist tangent -- or two -- as a town planner and self-confessed media guru. Writer Matt Morgan (Russell Brand's old sidekick on his BBC Radio 2 show, with James Corden's World Cup Live and Brand's Ponderland on his CV) shamelessly goes after cheap laughs, but all the irony or late-night beers in the world couldn't save these lame gags.

With Miranda proving that old-fashioned 1970s sitcom slapstick can still be funny -- and Mrs Brown's Boys proving it doesn't have to be to find an audience -- the brains behind The Fun Police turn the canned laughter up to 11 here, but they still can't hide the crippling lack of anything even close to hilarious.



Darker

Having covered Downing Street with more than a little aplomb last week, Michael Cockerell and his team really got into the thick of it last night as they explored an even darker facet of the British political landscape -- The Secret World Of Whitehall.

Cockerell and co spoke to those who have spent much of their professional lives in these corridors of power, where decisions are made behind closed doors that affect countless lives. The main focus was on the private offices held by government ministers, each run by a small team of high-flyin' civil servants. It's this small, dedicated team that manages the professional life of their minister, while vowing to protect, guide and inform them.

Former Tory bigwig Michael Heseltine is none too impressed by the influx in recent years of university graduates into advisory staff positions, most without any real experience of political life. But it is the ladder to real power -- as we witness, with early footage of young guns such as David Cameron and Ed Milliband hovering behind their various minister masters. It's Yes Minister without the laughs, and about ten times scarier. And it made for great TV.

COMEDY SHOWCASE: THE FUN POLICE HHIII

THE SECRET WORLD OF WHITEHALL HHHHI

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