Saturday 12 September 2020

The New Quiz, The Lenny Henry Show, and dead horses being flogged

The Daily Telegraph featured an interview today with Andy Zaltman, the latest series host of Radio 4's The News Quiz. 

Addressing the bias question, Andy says that a rebalancing is “clearly needed” and says he’s working hard to make sure The News Quiz has “a balance of pundits – politically, geographically”. 

I rather like Andy Zaltman, so I've listened his first two episodes of The News Quiz all the way through, without switching off. I laughed a few times too. 

I think it's an improvement, though, of course, still heavily leaning one way politically -  though one guest was surprisingly tough on Extinction Rebellion. 

I particularly enjoyed the emergency artificial intelligence Radio 4 satirist in the first episode - a robot primed to step in should the programme's Zoom link to one of the guest comedians fail thanks to technical difficulties (as happened). Its contributions were "What is up with Donald Trump?" and "Brexit? Schmexit?" - which pretty much sums up swathes of BBC comedy in recent years. 

Even funnier was this gem from the Telegraph's interview:

Zaltzman’s Wikipedia page mentions that in 2014 he “performed at the Lord’s Taverners charity Christmas lunch without incident.” Some wag has clearly added “without incident” as a joke directed at former News Quiz host and frequent Bugle guest Nish Kumar, who memorably had a bread roll thrown at him by an aggrieved audience-member during his own performance at that annual cricket-lovers’ do last year.

On the other hand, Radio 4 has revived The Lenny Henry Show yet again. 

After two short-lived TV revivals (one in the 1990s, one in the 2000s), this 1980s Lenny Henry vehicle has been brought back yet again, this time on radio. Few dead horses have ever been flogged so often. 

It's getting very few reviews. Even Twitter folk don't seem to care. 

And no wonder. I've given it a try. 'National treasure' though Sir Lenny may be, his new show is full of heavy-handed, sub-agitprop finger-wagging about race, and is not funny. 

It could very well be the ultimate, future-textbook example of the dire depths BBC comedy, especially Radio 4 comedy, sank to because of its woke agenda and because of the BBC's need to pander to its high-profile, ever-moaning and most-untouchable stars. 

It's a series that should have been quietly dropped before airing on quality grounds, but there's no way that would have happened in recent months.  

I think that should be added to Tim Davie's to-do-list: Don't give Sir Lenny another comedy series unless it's funny. 

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