In the last month Channel 4’s marketing department has done well in bombarding us all with anchormanesque billboards and amusing adverts for 10 O’Clock Live, their new topical comedy show. I suspect, however, that the hype and anticipation created is where their downfall will lie. All of us were far too young to have seen the first show of say ‘Have I Got News For You’ or Paxman doing his first interview but I have vague memories of ‘Mock the Week’ having a fairly mediocre start. These shows however were allowed to develop and grow with an increasing fan base as they found their feet but I have an inkling that this show, which does have the bare bones of great television, won’t be allowed that space to breathe and regroup. I can see why Channel 4 has gone with this approach though. The success of their alternative election coverage has prompted 10 O’Clock Live. Pissing everyone off by ending the Daily Show from airing every day and touting 10 O’Clock live as an alternative was a mistake. Talk about setting the bar far, far too high.
_Some of the over-hyped advertising _
In theory TOCL could have been comic gold with Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker being some of the funniest men in business. Oh and of course Lauren Laverne.
Taking on Lauren Laverne just seems nonsensical. I suspect the thinking was something like…. “don’t we need a woman? Oh and make her look smoking”. Really people, really?
Ironically one of the major failures of the show is the fact there are too many people involved and with the content being divided almost evenly between them the show loses any momentum it has. It’s such a shame because it feels that just as you start to engage it cuts to a break or the next segment. As the boys begin to settle into a dynamic and the wit sparkles we’re off on some moronic Hollywood report about Sudan and the potential that’s just around the corner is lost.
Mitchell was easily the superstar of the group being the most erudite and genuinely funny. His first interview on the subject of bankers made me question his ability as an interviewer but retrospectively I’m not sure many people beyond Dimbleby could handle a dialogue with three professional politicians whose knowledge of the topic far outweighs your own. He handled David Willetts wonderfully and his rant was pitch perfect. Jimmy Carr looked like live television made him want to cry and the first five minutes were so Jimmy heavy it was obvious it took him a while to relax and deliver his one liners without looking like he was reading from a prompter. Both Carr and Brooker had trouble with camera and line cues which made the show look incredibly amateurish , which wasn’t helped by the sudden switching of camera angles for seemingly no reason at all. Brooker, beyond his prerecorded Palin segment, shined when mocking Tunisia but felt oddly absent during the panel chats. Which leaves just Ms. Lauren Laverne who is wholly miscast and I fear will come out the other end of this looking like an idiot.
Finally if you are going to conduct a political talk show, some prior knowledge is a must. Not knowing who the cabinet ministers are is embarrassing. I enjoyed the smirking Richard Sharp of Goldman Sachs who smugly listened to Mitchell fumble through the banking crisis and this I fear seems to be the major failing of this confuzzled little show. Comedians are not stupid people but to keep up beyond witty one liners when debating with leaders in their respective fields, some homework is required which I think the cast are skiving off so far. The second half of the show did pick up with Jimmy looking far more comfortable and so I have great hope with a little restructuring and a deep breath every so often this show can develop on the potential it has to be great satirical comedy that is informative and topical. Especially if they stop airing it against Question Time and News Night.
C4 Thursday, 10pm and 4OD