Walliams And Friend won't leave you in stitches

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Walliams And Friend won't leave you in stitches

November 26, 2016 - 20:16
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Average: 1.9 (19 votes)
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There isn’t quite the appetite there once was for the sketch show in primetime television land. In days gone by, British classics such as The Two Ronnies, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV and The Morcambe and Wise Show were essential viewing, with the latter regularly pulling in audiences in excess of 20 million.

Walliams and Friend

By Matthew Gormley @MatthewPGormley

There isn’t quite the appetite there once was for the sketch show in primetime television land. In days gone by, British classics such as The Two Ronnies, Victoria Wood As Seen On TV and The Morcambe and Wise Show were essential viewing, with the latter regularly pulling in audiences in excess of 20 million.

Over the last couple of years, the BBC have made several attempts to return to the traditional sketch show, with Tracy Ullman’s Show having just been recommissioned for a second series. Now, it’s the turn of comedian, author and Britain’s Got Talent judge David Walliams, who stars in this self-titled six-part series. For each episode, Walliams is joined by a celebrity ‘friend’, who stars alongside him in a selection of unrelated sketches, both of them playing a range of characters.

Jack Whitehall joins David to form the first double act. The programme opens with a parody public service announcement, in which David, seemingly playing himself, attempts to address the concerns of the BBC becoming too London centric by insulting the whole of the rest of the country. In an age that’s so ridiculously PC, I’m surprised the sketch itself hasn’t yet attracted complaints from the perpetually outraged.

If you lack a sense of humour and don’t take kindly to mild ribbing, this certainly isn’t the show for you. There’s a lot of adult humour, including two sketches featuring Walliams and Whitehall (almost sounds like a proper double act, methinks) as a crude version of Sherlock and Watson.

Some of the sketches are a little long-winded; you’re not quite sure where they’re supposed to be going or even if there’s going to be a punch line at the end of it. The pub sketch, featuring Walliams as a stereotypical middle aged man enjoying an early evening pint and Whitehall as a materialistic, annoyingly competitive teenager, was certainly guilty of this. There was a fairly amusing line at the end, but the first three minutes were rather repetitive, and after a while I got tired of hearing the swaggering street talker continuously utter ‘I’m better than you’.

The Dating Game sketch features Walliams imitating Paddy McGuiness’ ever popular match-making programme Take Me Out. David is adequately convincing in his depiction of the hyperactive host, although the line between the Bolton and Yorkshire accents are frequently blurred.

The highlight of the opening episode was the Celebrity Slammer, a humorous and definitely more watchable take on Celebrity Big Brother, in which David finds himself in jail alongside Eamonn Holmes, Bob Carolgees with Spit The Dog and children’s entertainment legends The Chuckle Brothers. In the cruellest and longest reality show in history, the television personalities are now into their seventh year of eating porridge. It’s no coincidence that this is one of the best sketches, in which Walliams, alongside the other personalities, are playing themselves, rather than silly, contrived characters. Rather than being a standalone sketch, Celebrity Slammer appears to be a mini-series in itself, which will play out over the coming weeks.

Middle Class Jeremy Kyle also looks set to be a recurring feature, more is the pity. The sketch is unfunny and his impression of Jeremy Kyle is unconvincing.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable half an hour that will raise the odd giggle here and there, but won’t leave you in stitches. The material isn’t groundbreaking and most of it isn’t entirely original. The quality of the content may entirely depend on the ‘friend’ involved, and with Sheridan Smith and Harry Enfield just a couple of the guest stars performing alongside Walliams later in the series, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamic changes.

Walliams And Friend continues on Friday nights at 9.30pm on BBC One until Friday 30 December 2016.

There are 4 Comments

Kevin O'Sullivan's picture

Submitted by Truth detective on Sat, 26/11/2016 - 10:20

AMAZING, WONDERFUL, INVENTIVE, ORIGINAL, CRAP - only one of these words is used as part of my review of David Walliams and Friend- I'd seen the trailers, I know Walliams and his schtick, and of course have seen Jack Whitehall on numerous panel shows doing his pseudo posh bloke act , and so the day came when the BBC decided it was well worth the license payers fee to foist these two together and cobble together what I can only describe as a total and utter disaster.

All the sketches seemed to be parodies of other TV shows most notably the utter awfulness of Sherlock, Whitehall as the eponymous detective and Walliams was well Walliams in a wig, we then sat through an over long sketch where Holmes apparently deduced that Watson had been pleasuring himself in the front room, half way through we sae Whitehall's face crack and begin to laugh, believe me the only laugh in this terrible giggle free zone.

The problem is, and this is the rub, David Walliams is not funny, he is lucky, Little Britain was funny, but mostly due to Matt Lucus as he had the majority of funny characters, Walliams relied heavily on catch phrases and wigs. The same wigs he used on Walliams and Friends, every sketch saw him sporting a different syrup and this you feel was the basis for his character dynamic, that and one of his two comedy accents, token posh bloke or token northern bloke, We saw token northern bloke on the dating sketch, if i was Paddy McGuinness I wouldn't worry the impression wasn't even near enough to be an issue, the problem is that no matter how much effort was made to deliver a new TV parody Friday night comedy sketch show it failed on every single level.

I sat through and watched as numerous celebs gave their 5 minutes of mirth to this abhorrent car crash, Vernon Kay, the chuckle brothers and Biggins all appeared to give this flagging old, tired and woefully unfunny show a jolt of life, but sadly as the flat line of comedy continued everyone had to stand back and declare it dead on arrival.

The worrying aspect is not that there are 5 episodes left (Watch it get ditched to 11pm in future) its that BBC comedy execs thought this was the right thing to spend our hard earned money on, Walliams is not funny, has never been funny, will not be funny and cannot be funny. We have seen his pseudo camp frippery for many years, and occasionally on Britains got talent can be amusing but dear god why have we let him get away with this rubbish for so long, he maybe a successful children's author but...oh hang on that's it, Walliams and Friend actually is perfect, if it was on Children's BBC at 3.30 in the afternoon, the characters are so broad, the sketches so telegraphed and the punch lines so ineffectual only children of 7 and under would laugh, but only at the wigs!

It a terrible shame that there are thousands of brilliant performers and writers who are creating funny, clever and witty material that deserves a Friday night BBC slot.

Walliams and Friend only serves to show that once again David is not a Goliath of comedy and the only way it could be any worse is if it had Miranda Hart in it, thank heavens for small or in her case tall mercies!

GeordieArmani's picture

Well what can I say? Being a huge fan of both David Walliams and Jack Whitehall I was rather looking forward to watching this new show. I switched it off after less than ten minutes and won't be bothering to watch any of other programs in this series.

Two, in my opinion very talented me who really let themselves down in this show. Jack will recover, once his mates James and Freddie have taken the piss out of him on a league of their own.

Why oh why did David do this!!! we all know his is better at writing excellent children's books and guesting on panel shows than he is at actually comedy.

Quick witted and charming, superb on Britain's Got Talent. Shame.

Over and Out GA x

Anna May's picture

By Anna May @AnnaMayMight

I’m scratching my head and wondering what happened here. I think fans of David Walliams will be easily amused by his cheeky grin and the general way he delivers lines. He IS funny and has a distinct style of comedy that draws his fans to anything he’s involved with, but this just hasn’t clicked with me yet.

I can honestly say I smiled throughout the sketches because I could see a certain amount of promise in Jack Whitehall’s characters and David Walliams does have that naughty little boy thing going on that encourages you to keep watching in the hope he’ll say or do something to either shock or disgust you.

However, I was wishing and willing each one of these sketches to be just a little more than it was. As others have said, the punchlines were either not strong enough or too predictable. So many opportunities were missed.

For instance, at the end of the Sherlock Holmes sketch with the violin bow, I was ready to let a little giggle out when Whitehall’s character treated himself to another cheeky sniff of it after being left alone. It didn’t happen. Just small things like that really make a difference to me. That extra little bit of naughtiness to reel you in.

I liked the James Bond sketch, as it wasn’t that obvious what the punchline would be until nearer the end. If anything, I was looking forward to hearing it and felt it deserved the broad smile I gave it.

I have to add that one of the sketches did seem a little bit ‘stolen’ from other writers. Maybe not, but the sketch about the unhappy couple digging at each other through their dinner guest really smacked of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton’s League of Gentleman couple, who habitually argue at each other through a third party, be that a mutual friend or even a baby. Once alone, they also carry on as if there is nothing wrong with their marriage at all. Sadly, as soon as the déjà vu kicked in, the rest of the sketch just followed through, for want of a better phrase.

I will watch this again, because I like to give shows a chance. I hate to think I’m missing out on something that’s going to grow into something I’d really enjoy. It’s early days yet, so I’m not dismissing it without a fight.