Funny Valentines | Review of the BBC's new comedy iPlayer shorts © BBC

Funny Valentines

Note: This review is from 2015

Review of the BBC's new comedy iPlayer shorts

The BBC's new Funny Valentine shorts released on iPlayer to mark the romantic weekend just gone are an intriguing bunch - more fascinating curios than obvious pilot pitches; but certainly a good chance for comedians to try their hand at something new – which they’ve enthusiastically seized. The films are:

Music Lovers

Earnest rock and pop stars provide endless inspiration for mockumentaries, and the latest in the genre features Monozygotic – the most famous fake band to come out of Norway since Armstrong and Miller's Strijka. Featuring Sara Pascoe, John Robbins, Elis James and Vanessa Hammick the quartet are riven with more sexual inter-band tension than even Abba, which none-too-subtly emerges in their electro-pop songs. Some lyrics might lose meaning in translation, but they certainly gain laughs. Written by Pascoe, this is a strong offering, mixing the videos with behind-the-scenes footage in which all the members try to put a brave face on their complicated emotional situation. The eight-minute short was overseen by Sharon Horgan and Clelia Mountford from their Merman Films production company.


Nick Helm takes a departure from his shouty stage alter-ego and similarly reckless Uncle character for this understated look at unspoken romance. He even lost the beard. With co-writer Esther Smith, who also appeared in Uncle, they play best pals who while away a skint afternoon in the bohemian Lanes of Brighton, somehow avoiding taking the tenderness of their gently teasing friendship making it to the next level. A warm, wonderfully-made short from the Happy Tramp production house.

Rom Com

In this enjoyable sketch, written by Romesh Ranganathan, he returns to his flat one evening to pick apart an awkward date with Sarah (Aisling Bea) at the bowling alley. Every embarrassing wrong move is replayed in agonising detail as he talks through the disaster with the side of his psyche that he would much rather be. There’s the comedy of cringe to his antics, but they come with a nice payoff…

Last Chance

Roy Clarke is known for writing for older characters in Last Of The Summer Wine and Open All Hours, but this bitter-sweet near-monologue offers a more downbeat tone than his usual output. In a lovely performance, Russ Abbott plays a man who sees no point in carrying on now his wife has left him, and as he tries to leave a goodbye message, he is interrupted by cold callers and the neighbour who has been a 'big comfort' to him. This 15-minute piece is more dramatic than the others, with any comedy coming with distinctly bleak shades, but even if it's a long way from wanting a party with a happy atmosphere, it's a charmingly idiosyncratic piece.

A Wee Video! For the Ladies

There's a darker side to Brian Limond's latest creation, too. The comedian, best known as Limmy, plays a nervous would-be romantic filming a clip for a dating website… a premise of god-knows how many comedy sketches. But this cheeky, emotionally mixed-up geezer is more than a broad stereotype, and as he speaks, he reveals more of his believable character – including a violent backstory that might be a bit of a turn-off for the ladies. Again, it's not a laugh riot, but a quirky curiosity.

Dear Jean-Pierre

As Katy Wix writes a break-up letter to the mysterious Frenchman who stole her heart, flashbacks reveal elements of their peculiar relationship that might have led her here. Wix has an affection for the absurd, with the script frequently pulling back to reveal a surreal image or twist on the words she’s writing. It’s all pretty silly, but played with an absolutely straight bat, her deadpan performance giving no hint that any of this is odd at all...

The Lady And The Fly

This typically classy animation from the Modern Toss fellas wonderfully captures the spirit of romantic melodramas of the 1930s in look and music. However the characters have a distinctly modern feel. A geezer-ish spider (voiced by Paul Kaye) finds a sad-eyed fly captured in his web, and they get chatting, the winged insect (Mackenzie Crook) telling his backstory to the surprisingly sympathetic predator. The witty script reveals he’s heartbroken because his relationship with a human wasn’t all he’d imagined it to be. It’s all rather touching for something so peculiar…

Wild Love

Matt Berry follows up his Lone Wolf short from last year, with his wildlife voiceover offering an more direct-speaking alternative to David Attenborough's dulcet, knowledgable tones. With its honest and expletive-laden and daft responses to brilliant footage ('what the fuck is that?!'), it's not the most sophisticated of the bunch, but is possibly the funniest. And no one can say ‘sexually’, 'ensue' or 'rituals' quite like the Toast of London star...

Love Song

Bill Bailey's offering is is the odd one out of the bunch, being based on a pre-existing material. But the video, costarring Emma Thompson is visually strong, and 'the duck lies shredded in a pancake/Soaking hoisin of your lies' remains one of the best lyrics ever committed to comedy song, so it would be churlish to complain about a revival of this astute parody of the over-earnestness of rock ballads.

Review date: 16 Feb 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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