153: Taxi !

Someone’s having a laugh, and it’s not Jim Shelley

Tapehead no 153

Suddenly there is comedy everywhere (though not necessarily laughter). With the clocks going back and Armageddon/Christmas approaching, someone obviously thinks we need cheering up.

Sorry excuses so far include BBC2’s ridiculous Abigail’s Party Night, the pathetic student humour of TV Offal, and Desperately Seeking Approval with Clive Anderson, this week interrupting (sorry, interviewing) Demi Moore.

The best laugh of the week comes from Royals And Reptiles. Channel 4’s brazen attempt to stock up on knighthoods.

Part three continues to absolve the royals and firmly lumps Diana in with the press as a Reptile, accusing her of “Playing a decidedly dangerous game” and “Duping” the nation’s editors, even though Andrew Morton’s book has now been vindicated. 

The ludicrous commentary concludes that “The Princess invaded her own privacy.” Huh ? 

This week’s big comedy guns include Steve Coogan, Dead Donkey Andy Hamilton, and the sixth series of the vaguely likeable but increasingly thin Men Behaving Badly. No doubt inspired by the behaviour of Leslie Ash’s hubby, striker Lee Chapman, described by the Beeb as a “successful restaurateur.”

Sadly the slapstick, rather than the realism, has been turned up. (In this episode, we’re asked to accept not only that Tony is now selling birthing pools, but that two men would sleep with Caroline Quentin.) 

The gags are getting old and predictable – “Which one’s your bathroom ?” “It’s the small room with the bath.”

Others, unlike Lee Chapman, are just off target.

“I thought we’d already established.” Quentin says, “That Gary’s two other halves were Homer Simpson and Ethel Merman.” (Explanations on a postcard please.)

Andy Hamilton’s new “Comedy Drama” Underworld, seems neither comic nor dramatic enough and despite its ambitious scope, is no Holding On (though what is ?).

Jeanetta from Preston Front gets caught up with Alun Armstrong and Kevin McNally playing predictably flamboyant, rather cardboard comic villains.

The highlight is Mike Reid, sensibly typecast as the black-cab version of Frank Butcher in shell-suit, medallion, and endless bigoted opinions, boring his passengers to death. (Surely a disgraceful slight on the good name of honest London cab bastards, er, drivers.)

“Traffic’s so bad,” he points out, “There ain’t a cabbie left who ain’t turned mental.”

“You know what the trouble with this country is ? Too many old people…And I’ll tell you another thing that’s sending this country down the pan. Fucking speed bumps.”

Mind you, he’s got a point.

“A man will cut you up,” explains a cabbie in Cutting Edge’s Women Drivers. “But he’ll do it in the correct manner.”

That man could well be lee the van driver.

“You fucking crazy !?” he rages to a misguided fellow motorist. “Is that your problem ?”

Lee has a brilliant, funny theory that the way women pay for their shopping demonstrates perfectly the problem with the way they drive. (Sorry, he has a ridiculous theory that is not true at all). 

A few school buses, he suggest, would get the roads clear come the school run and keep women off the roads, thus enabling them to stay at home cooking.

With 94 per cent of all motoring offences being committed by men, Lee is a perfect example of a typical male driver who drives appallingly because of women driving too slowly, using the rear-view mirror to put their make-up on and thinking about shopping.

“It’s not fast enough,” he keeps muttering as he cuts people up, overtakes on the inside and flashes them to move over.

One of the highlights of The Day Today was Alan Partridge going rallying with Britain’s top lady driver, and shouting, “Whoa ! Smoky lady ! I like it. You treat it like a bitch and I like it.”

Sadly, I’m Alan Partridge sees him confined to playing ELO records on his daily Radio Norwich Show, Up With the Partridge (4.30am-7am).

His career on the skids. Alan’s life consists of checking out show-houses, getting his car vandalised and trying to persuade the BBC’s Head of Commission to give him a new series – hitting him with ideas like Knowing M.E. Knowing You and “Jet from Gladiators hosting a Millennium barn-dance at Yeovil aerodrome.” 

A-ha !

Royals And Reptiles: 8pm, Sun, C4

I’m Alan Partridge: 10pm, Mon, BBC2

Cutting edge: 9pm, Tue, C4

Underworld: 10pm, Tue, C4

Men Behaving Badly: 9.30pm, Thu, BBC1