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Home > Media

A bad week for comedy

12 June 2004

More out of curiosity than any desire to write horrible spiteful things about our much longer-established and much better-paid rivals in news-event lampoonery, yesterday afternoon TFT went along to Ronnie Scott's in Soho to see the recording of this week's edition of Radio 2's 'It's Been a Bad Week'.

And boy oh boy, is it crap.

Produced by Dirk Maggs, who in almost twenty years of radio has had the honour of working with such comedy legends as Roy Hudd, June Whitfield, Russ Abbot and Jasper Carrott, 'It's A Bad Week' can boast no-one anywhere near so hilarious. Instead it is hosted by Hale and Pace wannabes, Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis, the only comedy double act in history famed for comprising not one, but two straight men. Punt and Dennis are supported by comedians Mitch Benn, Sue Perkins and Simon Greenall, the latter better known as that Geordie fella in 'I'm Alan Partidge' and as an ex-gag writer for Brian Conley.

Now in its fifth year, 'It's Been a Bad Week' concentrates most of its efforts on casting 'a sideways glance' at the week's quirky stories, with a view to eventually awarding the 'Worst Week Of The Week Award, Awarded Weekly On A Week By Week Basis'. And if you think that sentence is funny, you must go along to one of the recordings, where you will hear it spoken at least a thousand times during sixty of the longest minutes you will ever have to endure.

It would be wrong perhaps to expect anything other than the tamest of bland garbage from a programme that goes out between Suzi Quattro and Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2, a station famed for spewing lowest-common-denominator tat to middle-aged bores who wear chunky cardigans and eat dried fruit. But would it be wrong to expect the stories they cover to have actually happened?

Apparently so. Last week's show - which we listened to online in the vain hope of discovering that this week's show was merely a bad week - featured a story about a Ku Klux Klansman who was sent home from a rally after turning up with laundry-ruined pink robes. Presumably they found this story here.

You might hope that calling your website 'the Spoof' would be enough to warn any lazy BBC writers not to use your made-up stories in a topical news show. But just in case, the people at the site are taking no chances and very thoughtfully amend the following warning to each of their stories: 'The story as represented above is written as a satire or parody. It is fictitious.' Still, never let the truth get in the way of a rather forced chuckle.

If you loathe Punt and Dennis as much as you ought, none of this will surprise you. If on the other hand, you find that they are far funnier than Hale and Pace ever were, there are still five bad weeks of this season left for you to enjoy. You may also be interested to know that for just 8,000 you can hire Punt as an after-dinner speaker. Weirdly, this is 2,500 more than it would cost to hire Sir Ranulph Fiennes to perform the same function. Ranulph Fiennes is officially 'the world's greatest living explorer'. Steve Punt is officially the man who is to female genitalia what Gary Glitter is to the rectum. Or would be if he were more famous. Go figure.

If Ronnie Scott were alive today, there is very little doubt - he would kill himself.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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