Frankie Boyle

Frankie Boyle

Frankie Boyle came to prominence when he won the Daily Telegraph’s Open Mic competition in 1996, launching his stand-up career.

On TV, he has appeared on every episode of BBC Two’s Mock the Week, and has been a familiar face on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, for which he was also a writer, They Think It’s All Over, Law of the Playground and BBC Scotland’s Live Floor Show.Other writing credits include 2DTV and 29 Minute Of Fame.

He has also been a team captain on BBC Radio Scotland’s Spin on This and Famous for 5 Minutes.

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Frankie Boyle's New World Order

TV review by Steve Bennett

On the face of it, it seemed like a good idea to launch Frankie Boyle’s much-anticipated return to terrestrial TV just half an hour after the general election polls closed. But with a pre-recorded show, how topical could it be? And wouldn’t most politicos be watching the news channels anyway, especially in the wake of that shock exit poll?

Certainly his joke that Theresa May had so much media backing that she could have ‘taken a shit on the Cenotaph’ – and much more besides – and still be the largest party seem to have overstated the vote.

Mostly, though, the question of topicality made little difference. More pressing was the issue of whether Boyle’s brutal brand of comedy had been reigned in by the BBC bigwigs? 

That was hard to tell… There was certainly nothing in the opening episode quite so awful as  joke about Katie Price’s disabled son that he made on  Tramadol Nights on Channel 4 in 2010, which pretty much banished him to the broadcasting  wilderness – otherwise known as BBC Three – ever since.

But his opening monologue included gags mentioning HIV, Isis and felching, so it’s hardly Listen With Mother, while directing his venom at the political system is certainly more potent and relevant than skewering the children of publicity-hungry celebrities.

Boyle has particular gift for unique but vivid imagery, describing Theresa May, for example,  as ‘always looks like she’s going to cough up an owl pellet’ and the bizarre idea of linking the Prime Minister to Biggie Smalls.

His closing ‘impersonation;’ of Ukip’s Paul Nuttall was both surreal and accurate, wonderfully undermining the fantasist hardliner. Comparing Tim Farron to a trendy vicar is a more traditional analogy, however, but in Boyle’s defence there’s very little personality to the Lib Dem leader for a satirist to sink their fangs into.

The four-part New World Order broadly follows the format of Boyle’s ‘Autopsy’ BBC Three specials about the 2015 general election, EU referendum and US presidential election.

‘I give an opinion on the news and we decide if we are right or wrong’, he explains.  ‘We’ tonight being Sara Pascoe, Miles Jupp, Nish Kumar playwright Lucy Prebble, who was something of a witty revelation among the familiar comedy faves. 

They were brought in not so much as to challenge Boyle, but to reinforce the ideas and add to them. And more importantly, be funny – and New World Order certainly has a higher strike rate that other such programmes (Channel 4’ Alternative Election Night, we are looking at you) with their sharp and opinionated barbs.

It’s a good job New World Order came out just minutes after the tight impartiality restrictions imposed on broadcasters during the campaign had been lifted just before the show started, because May (and occasionally Jeremy Hunt) certainly got more grief than Jeremy Corbyn

‘The problem with him is in his integrity’, suggested Prebble by means of searing criticism for the Labour leader’s struggles with the nuclear question in his televised grilling.

Luckily the audience for Boyle’s show are on side, being as  politically imbalanced as the Daily Mail would have you believe the crowd of the leaders’ debate was. And there were lots of cutaways to those members of the public, especially during that opening monologue, to show it’s funny, not just brutal.

The propositions discussed in this first episode were that ‘the political system hates us’ and ‘the media is a an obstance to meaningful democracy’ – broad topics tackled with unabashed  cynicism,

But that proved a sharp scythe to cut through all the noise of the election campaign, and produced a plethora of biting jokes, as refreshing as they are stinging. The first results are in: and it’s good to have Boyle back on the telly.

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Published: 8 Jun 2017

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