Last night I watched 10 O'Clock Live, the political satirical show on Thursday night on Channel 4, sitting on a leather sofa. They had a rather fun back-and-forth on the efficacy of protests, comparing and contrasting the last few weeks in Egypt and the recent British protests against the selling off of forests, led by David Mitchell with Tamsin Omond, Ed Howker and Milo Yiannopoulos. And rather entertaining it was too.
Then once it was finished, Tamsin came in and sat down in front of me.
It wasn't a new iteration of 3D TV, it was the most peculiar act of watching the show from the green room at the TV station where the show was recorded. It was quite unnerving, but you soon get used to it and this morning while watching a recorded of episode of Lark Rise To Candleford I was slightly disappointed that Dawn French didn't just pop round the screen and offer me a cup of tea.
10 O'Clock Live is Channel 4's latest attempt at the satire show, having had relative success over the years with Bremner, Bird And Fortune, The Mark Thomas Comedy Product, Brass Eye, Drop The Dead Donkey and more. Endemol, better known for shows such as Big Brother, Deal Of No Deal, Wipeout, Would I Lie To You, Screenwipe, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and so much more are delivering the latest.
And it does so in a TV climate where sister channel More4 has junked The Daily Show for a week-late best-of edition, Spitting Image has failed to be revived again, and Mock The Week has been reinvented into new version of Whose Line Is It Anyway.And it's got a mixed reception..
The show is at its best when it is targeted by events. David Mitchell or Charlie Brooker speaking to camera are funnier and cleverer and do so with greater passion their Stewart and Colbert counterparts. And in round table or discussion, they are both quick witted to grab the smallest details from their guests to either interrogate or get a quick gag. David Mitchell's insistence last night on Sally Bercow's mispeak wanting to "literally put a rocket up MP's bottoms" got a cheer before he even spoke, the audience anticipating his old-fashioned indignation.
Charlie Brooker seems to be the most scared of live work but you can see him plough through his seeming wish to run to the hills, creating a gloriously passionate rant that makes Lewis Black look like Alan Titchmarsh. Even when he stumbles, he grabs that stumble and plays with it challenging himself to turn his flaw int something inspired so that you think if it wasn't in the script, it should have been. The live aspect does help here, it alters audience expectations, makes you more aware of the moment and even helps you appreciate the technical expertise that has gone into this hour long production.
Jimmy Carr is a mixed bag here, his teleprompting gag filled monologue with Colbert-style running-commentary caption is crisp, well written, self aware and funny, his roundtable moments are usually base and play to the lowest common denominator, but that makes for a welcome, funny, change in tone. But his sketch material falls apart horrifically, it's just not his forte. It it seems especially galling when you have an accomplished sketch comedian in David Mitchell sitting on a stool half a studio away. This kind of content is intended to break the tone up a bit, but there must be a better way.
Where Lauren Laverne's strength is as one of continuity, wrenching the show from one gear change to another, but she's functional rather than inspired and fails when she needs to do more. Can't someone throw her a guitar? The show could probably do with a satirical musical number or two, it's something the likes of That Was The Week That Was did to effect, as well as Radio 4's The Now Show. That would break things up a bit, wouldn;t it? And Lauren can write, sing and play a fine number. I'm thinking of starting a #givelaurenaguitar hashtag, see if I can get that going…
The show has been getting better – David Mitchell's piece last week in which he revealed at the end of a piece he hadn't been using the Labour spokesman's real name to avoid giving him any publicity for making purely opportunistic comments, was a stunner. But I really enjoyed watching most of the show this week, even in the slightly altered surroundings.
But watching the reaction of the green room was also fascinating. Such as Conservative big beast Stephen Norris laughing at the anti-Cameron gags – and not laughing quite so much as the Berlusconi-is-old-and-has-sex-with-very-young-women gags. "He's old enough to be her ancestor" got a wince.
I spent a long age chatting with Norris afterwards, both going back and forth on the Alternative Vote debate, the career of Ken Livingstone (who defeated him the London mayoral elections but who he has a lot of respect for, and to whom he singlehandedly attributes the Olympics 2012 win) and the role of scandal in modern political life. That people are more prurient than ever but less judgmental over sex scandals, of which Norris suffered a few, but their focus changed to financial scandal concerns. So current mayor Boris Johnson and his re-challenger Ken Livingstone can have as many love children as they like, but heaven help them if they try to claim against expenses for a Twix.
Norris also revealed that before going on the show to oppose AV, he received a shot sheet of anti-AV bullet points from the campaign, at least half of which he disagreed with. But it's interesting to hear that kind of behind the scenessupport and lobbying going on. To some people at least, this show is important.
Tamsin seemed a little hyper/nervous, displaying a kind of Tony Blair rictus grin, as a defence mechanism, bit she was cheered when I told her the reaction in the green room when her opponent Milo Yiannopoulos started speaking – there was a visceral "oh for fuck's sake" as his caption popped up, describing him as a "student and Telegraph columnist'.
There was a brief and pleasant moment with Jimmy Carr as well – he's infamous for presenting award shows across the country, and I received one from him years ago at a radio ads award do – which he recalled with frightening clarity. While Charlie Brooker was slumped in post-show recovery and Mitchell chatted to a small clique, Carr worked the room, making a point to talk to as many people as he could, and make a personal impact. He has a reputation of being a hard worker, at 11.30 pm, he hadn't stopped and showed no sign of doing so.
And Sally Bercow? Honestly, I didn't recognise her out of the sheet.
Brits, or people who can fake an IP address can watch here. For everyone else, here's a clip from a previous show.