Thursday, August 3

Tasty satire

Thursday night's TV served up a delightful comedy lunch with a crispy business entree says Mark Lewis

A wholemeal bready finish to BBC2’s comedy sandwich last night came from Time Trumpet (BBC2, 10pm). Or Armando Iannucci’s Time Trumpet as it is unerringly known. The half hour show, whose conceit is that it’s set 25 years from now and looks back at events today, is the latest mind-son of the Italian sounding Scots satirist.

Iannucci occasionally turns into one of his own beautifully observed caricatures. The, ahem, visiting emeritus of comedy of Oxford University, who seems to have become more self-regarding than a wealthy Frenchman, used to appear fairly regularly in the talking heads retromentaries he so accurately mocks. Even so, the most TV-literate comedian of the last twenty years has impeccable form with, amongst others, I’m Alan Partridge, The Thick of It, and most gloriously The Day Today.

For TV comedy nerds like me, Time Trumpet’s odes to the latter were pleasantly apparent: The unneccesarily elaborate graphics of the opening sequence, the absurd Charlotte Church-vomiting-herself-inside-out news story, and the just plain random silliness of shrinking Newsnight’s Martha Kearny. But mostly the savage piss-take of contemporary TV obsessions.

Talking heads being asked for soundbites on video clips they have just watched was the funniest and most accurate, our obsession with plastic surgery was also eloquently done with David Beckham’s surgery to stitch a vagina to his arm, and reality shows were given a going over with a mock up of a stupid pitch on the Dragon’s Den.

Earlier that night we had already discovered how stupid the pitches can actually be, for there was a welcome return for the Dragon’s Den (BBC2, 8pm) where idiots ask bastards for cash for inventions which probably don’t work. One chap had invented a water-free egg boiler which didn’t work. He got £85,000 and was told it would sell kasquillians. Some other poor schmo went in there with a genius invention which prevented baths from overflowing. The bastards all liked it but tried to mug him for 40% of his company. Thankfully he turned them down.

Chief amongst the bastards is Duncan Bannatyne, who, in the series and a bit he’s been in the dragon’s chair, has never invested more than a snide remark. The man turns up, slags off, picks up his fee and pisses off.

Even so Dragon’s Den is the BA Barracas of reality TV. It’s bad, it’s black, it’s covered in jewellery, and it pities the fool that goes in there with ideas which are anything but bankers.

I think even Bannatyne would invest in Rob Brydon right now. He’s so cheeky and scampish, with such a koochy little face, he could be the Andrex dog (which incidentally, he was, with his irrististible Welsh voiceover). He’s back in fish out of water (or Brit in Australia) sitcom, Supernova, (BBC2, 9.30pm) which itself is back for a second series. Brydon’s the BBC’s equivalent of Channel 4’s Gordon Ramsey. He did Marion and Geoff, he did some film or other with Alan partridge, he’s in Annually Retentive. He’s an absolute banker. Supernova’s not much good. But at least it’s not Channel 4 where Brydon would have been given his own interminable food-based variety show.

And following, as it does, a repeat of Extras (BBC2, 9pm), it makes a bland, if harmless, filling for an otherwise well tasty comedy sandwich.

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