Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Billy on the Box: You cannot be serious, give us all a break

We should have known that when at the end of England’s game with Belgium on Saturday Adrian Chiles promised us ‘three weeks of football heaven’ that a hefty dollop of hell was just around the corner.

Or in this case, just after the break, as Saturday evenings on ITV promised never to be the same again as Alistair McGowan turned up with a new hilarious look at the week’s sporting events in his own inimitable way in You Cannot Be Serious?

In other words, some decent impressions very loosely connected to sport but with some of the worst material since Liverpool’s 1996 cup final suit.

The format was along Harry Hill lines, so it was no surprise to find that the large-collared one was one of the producers of the show, but McGowan is no Harry Hill, he’s not even Jimmy Hill. It didn’t start well, an impression of Louis Spence at the England ‘camp’ although just to make sure we knew he told us he was impersonating, but as he had enlisted the A League of Their Own audience he was safe knowing that they would have chortled hilariously if a dead body had been chucked on stage.

So in this up to the minute show we had a big segment on Ortis Deeley being rubbish at the World Athletics Championships in 2011, a toe-curling impression of Jedward, a rib-tickling clip from 1932 and Peter Andre (not the real one) wondering if Epsom was an amalgamation of epic and awesome. No, although this show might be shiny and bright.

It was nice to see the age-old impression of World in Action’s Brian Walden reincarnated as Roy Hodgson, although credit where credit is due, McGowan’s impression of Chiles is first class. He’s got smug and stuttering down to a tee.

It was just like the old days of TV Burp as special guests who had been mentioned earlier turned up, with Carl Froch the best pugilist actor since Audley Harrison, performing, but worse, much worse, was to come.

We had Duncan Goodhew in a hair-raising (pun intended) skit that turned into a song about butter. Don’t know about margarine, but I can’t believe this is on television.

But as bad as this all was, it does not even tip its toe into the water in comparison to the sheer hell that was The Greatest Footie Adsever.

Suddenly McGowan felt like Peter Kay as Paddy McGuinness, supposedly in his flat, guided us through what it said on the tin, and just in case you missed it he said ‘trust me, this is the greatest footie ads show you’ll ever see.’

I don’t doubt that for a second and it was nice to see some of the ads again, but please save us from the horror of rib-tickling comments in the style of You’ve Been Framed between the clips.

Peter Reid and Graham Taylor were wheeled out to make sure we realised this was a footie show but as Paddy told us himself — ‘there are some things in life that just aren’t funny’.

Indeed, there were two on ITV on Saturday evening, so, please, give us all a break, bring back Russ Abbott, or the Krankies, or Little and Large, just save us from this drivel.

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