Tim Vine

Tim Vine

Stand-up Tim Vine co-starred in the BBC One sitcom No Going Out and both series of ITV1’s The Sketch Show is also a TV host, having devised and presented Fluke for Channel 4, which was nominated for a Rose d’Or Award.

He was also the first man to appear on Channel Five when presenting quiz show Whittle. Tim has also starred in The Tim Vine Christmas Present for Five, Saturday Live (ITV) and The Stand Up Show (BBC1).

Tim recently became the Guinness World Record Holder for telling the most jokes in an hour – smashing the previous record with a total of 499. He has appeared on the Royal Variety Show alongside Shirley Bassey and Kylie Minogue, and hastoured the UK with his The Joke Machine Gun show.

He burst onto the stand-up circuit by winning the Perrier Best Newcomer Award for The Tim Vine Fiasco at the Edinburgh Festival in 1995. That followed a runner-up prize in the Hackney Empire New Act Of The Year competition in 1993. Tim’s solo shows in Edinburgh include Tim Vine Flat Out (1998) and I’m Vine Thanks and Tim Vine and the Minotaur (both 1999).

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Tim Vine Travels In Time

Note: This review is from 2017

TV preview by Steve Bennett

The most obvious bit of time travelling that Tim Vine has achieved with this pilot is to propel it about six hours ahead of where it should be in the schedules. For there’s no denying that with its cheap sets and cheesy jokes this has the feel of a kids’ show, out of place in a 10.35pm slot. 

The fact it’s based on the legend of Robin Hood doesn’t help, evoking memories of Tony Robinson’s 1990s children’s sitcom Maid Marian and Her Merry Men. But as with Vine’s live gigs, any resistance to the corniness is eroded by his cheery persistence – as long as TV audiences afford him that chance to win them over, and don’t flip channels too early. 

In the Ronnie Barker Lecture last week, Ben Elton spoke of how snobs often sneered at comedians who appeared to try too hard to get jokes. But Vine is absolutely brazen. In fact, the way he embraces the sheer shamelessness required to mug his way through the pun-heavy script is a huge part of his appeal.

The gags come thick and fast, from quite inspired bits of wordplay to the more obvious – ‘someone’s blowing their own trumpet,’ Vine says as a bugle sounds. He has a knack of making even new jokes sound old, and to labour them further, he delivers most the punchlines straight down the barrel of the camera. There are many asides to this story, as Vine acknowledges the shoddiness and invites us all to climb on board the silliness.

Should you need a plot, it’s that guest star Ore Oduba comes into Vine’s antique shop with a broken golden arrow he wants fixing. Vine then steps into a grandfather clock and emerges, Mr Benn style, into 1205 Sherwood Forest. Though like a broken arrow, the premise is pointless.

This was previously a radio show, but Vine has added a few visual gags for the telly – not least making a virtue of the low-rent rendering of a waterfall.  And he’s got a great supporting cast, including the always beguiling Sally Phillips as Maid Marian,  an underused Spencer Jones (whose own Comedy Playhouse, Mister Winner, gets and airing next week)  as Friar Tuck, and Marek Larwood, proving once again that he’s gold standard for playing dimwits, as merry man Glen. Then there is an almost unrecognisable Tim Key channelling his inner Brian Blessed as he shouts the Sheriff.

All the nonsense comes to an arrowhead in the obligatory archery contest – a nod to Vine’s love of darts that recruits legendary commentator Tony Green to call the contest. In what could be an analogy for the script one shot hits the bullseye for every two that go wide of the mark. 

Though in truth Vine has a higher hit rate than that, at least once he’s brought viewers on to his wavelength. Where that’s  a tall order at 10.35pm on a Friday night is the question…

Tim Vine Travels In Time is on BBC One at 10.35pm tonight.

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Published: 1 Sep 2017

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