COUCH POTATO: Sochi comedy show skating over thin ice
3:53pm Friday 14th February 2014 in News
WE’RE a week down in Sochi, and that famous icon of alpine sport, Alan Davies, has a question.
“It’s the Winter Olympics. What could possibly go wrong?”
Well, a terror attack, for one.
Serious injuries are a constant risk in every sport, of course. (Those curling brooms can give a nasty splinter if you’re not careful.)
And, off the top of my head, BBC2 could launch a Friday-night comedy chat show giving a sideways take on the action that makes James Corden’s World Cup Live look like Bafta Fellowship material.
As if by magic... it’s Alan Davies’ Après-Ski, an unofficial audition for Graham Norton’s long-term replacement that has gone horribly wrong, by the looks of it.
It landed like a Darren Gough ski-jump face-plant with guests Konrad Bartelski, “Denmark’s hottest comedian” Sofie Hagen (Copenhagen’s answer to Coleen Nolan) and “this country’s number-one ice-skating judge” Sally-Anne Stapleford.
Though you’ll no doubt have dozens of other personal contenders in mind for that particular accolade.
What this show does beyond dispute is prove the brilliance of QI’s capably comedic scriptwriters.
Because while I can overlook the Beeb choosing a host with zero interest in winter sports Davies is alarmingly witless for a comedian, particularly if this evidence is anything to go by.
“Sally-Anne, you were twice an Olympian?”
“Yes. Then I was officiating, so eight Olympics in total.”
Davies: “Eight Olympics in total? Wow!
“Did you share a room (in the athletes’ village) or did you have your own room?”
Stapleford : “I had my own room.”
Davies: “Ah. Nice.”
His live gigs must just fly by.
There’s a pretend ski-lift chair in the studio that wobbles when he sits on it, green-screen prattery with a fake ski jump, and the man cannot conduct a live satellite interview without relying heavily, and obviously, on cue cards.
In fact, so much grates that I’ve started picking up the guests’ errors.
Bartelski: “This is the strongest team we’ve ever sent to Sochi.”
And indeed the only team we’ve ever sent to Sochi.
“Alain Baxter won a bronze at Salt Lake in 2002.”
Alain Baxter was stripped of his Salt Lake bronze medal in 2002, Konrad.
Davies, with scant knowledge of what anyone’s talking about, can do nothing but let these matters slide.
But he is not helped by the writers.
There are seven of them. Seven.
Plus a “script associate”.
Or “writer” as they’re also known.
The best they can do is a Sochi/Saatchi Nigella gag, a joke about the “Olympic Village People” (“THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE PEOPLE! IT’S THE OLYMPIC VILLAGE PEOPLE!” yelled Davies, realising the level he’s operating at), plus this: “Figure skater Matthew Parr missed out on qualifying by one place.
“He told reporters, ‘It couldn’t have gone better for me’.
“I don’t want to quibble, Matthew, but it could.”
Finally, he had this for 2002 short-track Olympic champion Steven Bradbury: “After your win, you had your face on a stamp. Which is better than a stamp on a face.”
Oh, I don’t know.
l Après Ski continues tonight on BBC2 at 10pm.
This week's Couch Potato Spudulikes...
C5 improvised cop drama Suspects. (Whose Thin Blue Line Is It Anyway?)
BBC3's weirdly watchable prosthetics disguise dating show Sexy Beasts.
Matt Lucas and Paul Whitehouse on BBC4's The Life of Rock with Brian Pern - three parts genius, one part This Is Spinal Cack.
Graham Bell's mesmerising downhill ski course run, accurately described as: "One of the most impressive things on British television," by Clare Balding who's having another excellent Olympics, despite BBC's stylists turning her into a Spitting Image puppet.
And Dragons' Den's greatest ever moment which needs no punchline from me, Captain Ego Peter Jones to graffiti entrepreneur David Brown: "Do you know who I am?"
"Yeah. Peter... someone."
This week's Couch Potato Spuduhates...
Newsnight demonstrating BBC's sexism double standards by inviting a women-only panel to discuss head honcho Danny Cohen's ban on all-male panel shows.
Danny Boyle's Babylon letdown. (Stick to Olympic Opening Ceremonies.) The BBC imagining The Voice merited a nightly spin-off show.
Dancing On Ice's 1984 week failing to involve the celebs shipped permanently to Room 101.
The One Show's Alex Jones showing a viewer's photo: "Here's Sarah's 13-month-year-old daughter Penny."
BBC Sochi commentator Tim Warwood overdoing the Alan Partridge during the half-pipe: "Liquid snowboarding right here. Oh! Jurassic Park!"
Plus Ed Leigh: "He made minor mistakes but all I'm doing is picking hairs."
And Mark Read, of ITV2's The Big Reunion one-man-down boyband A1:
"People are going to be saying, 'Where's Paul?'"
No, they're going to be saying: "Who's Paul?"