Jason Byrne’s Telly Idea, Which May Also Work On The Radio…Show

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

For honesty’s sake, Jason Byrne’s Telly Idea Which May Also Work On The Radio Show needs to be renamed Jason Byrne’s Telly Idea Which May Also Work On The Radio But Doesn’t Really Work As A Live Event In An Inappropriate Venue When The Participants Seem Unsure About What’s Going On Show.

That it is chaotic comes as no real surprise. Chaos is what Byrne does. But, unfortunately, television is singularly bad at capturing the exhilarating excitement of a spontaneous, demented genius like him in full, uninhibited flow.

This side project to his main evening show is a possibly genuine attempt to make that crossover, by means of a panel game which he hosts and devised with the enthusiasm and naivity of a child putting on a show for his parents. ‘You’ve only ever done this in your front room,’ panellist John Bishop astutely noted on one of the many occasions when proceedings threatened to come crashing down.

It’s always going to be hard to get much of an atmosphere going in a room like this, an oak-panelled hall flooded with natural light, with dead bishops gazing down from their portraits. A great venue for a Hogwarts high dinner, less suitable for a comedy gig – and the acoustics are appalling, too.

That’s crucial in a show like this, where comedians, competitive for points as well as laughs, are continually talking over each other, but much of it gets lost in the rafters. Also Byrne doesn’t do discipline very well and by not bringing the comics into line, lets events get away from him too easily.

The panellists – in this instance Stephen K Amos, Jo Caulfield, Jason Manford and John Bishop – also appeared ill-briefed as to what was expected of his odd games, so much of the time was spent in bafflement, for both them and the audience. With comics of this calibre, you’re bound to get some good, improvised lines – but the whole thing was too fractured to get any momentum going.

It’s rather a wasted opportunity, as Byrne has brought some fine ideas to the table. Games include a clever twist on Play Your Cards Right, and the quickfire finale where contestants need to complete the questions, rather than providing the answer. A round inviting one-minute pitch for other TV shows has potential, but it needs to be down to the contestants to produce the ideas, rather than being reduced to passing comment on potential shows with punny titles that Byrne has already decreed.

The silliness of some of these rounds could make for an entertaining Shooting Stars-style subversion of the panel-show genre. But Byrne needs to be a team captain, with someone able to keep order in the chair – and the participants need to be briefed better. Or, indeed, at all.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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