Vandullz  and The Golden Cobra | Review of two BBC Wales Festival Of Funny pilots

Vandullz and The Golden Cobra

Review of two BBC Wales Festival Of Funny pilots

Comedies based around the camaraderie and tensions in bands are probably the sort of thing TV commissioners are pitched every week. But the bosses at BBC Wales were smart to commission Vandullz as one of its Festival Of Funny pilot projects, as the show has quirky personality that sets it apart.

That’s obvious from the start, when narration comes courtesy of the tour van – as voiced by comic Kiri Pritchard-McLean. It’s a bit of an affectation, but fits nicely into a wider idiosyncratic spirit as we follow the titular indie band through their hangovers and banter as they drive between gigs on their financially ill-advised White Lion pub tour

Some of the early gags in Sion Edwards and Leila Navabi’s script are  a bit obvious – a misprinted T-shirt is definitely sub-Spinal Tap territory – bit the show soon finds a tone and rhythm of its own. Much of this is down to director Carys Lewis, who uses washed-out colours and quick, creative editing to impose a distinctive look on the short episodes,

There are endearing performances, too, especially from Bethan Leyshon as too-keen fan Spoons – who in the second episodes does a wonderfully bonkers audition for the band, to the slight chagrin of level-headed manager Carys, a more subtly strong performance from Emma Stacey.

This feels like the start of an engaging character-driven comedy that could run for a full series.

I’d feel less inclined to spend more time with the literally and metaphorically two-dimensional characters of The Golden Cobra, which aired last night.

The animated  misadventures of the staff of Indian takeaway in the Valleys was commissioned from director Adam Llewellyn on the back on a zero-budget YouTube cartoon he created over lockdown. But it doesn’t look like the finances have improved much for this eight-minute pilot with its crude Beavis and Butt-head style animation.

Not that a simplistic look is any bar to success in this genre, as plenty of examples prove, but The Golden Cobra, is more held back by its simplistic storyline (even given the limitations of the timeslot) and unambitious, laddish humour.

There are jokes about the curry making your ‘shitting your arse out’, about getting naked – which rather loses its impact in cartoon form – and an aggressive chef (comic Jeff Mirza) shouting at his drivers. It’s not just the animation style that’s rough-and-ready.

• The first three episodes of Vandullz (review star review star review star review half star review blank star) are on BBC One Wales at 11.05pm tonight – after the stand-up showcase Live From Aberystwyth Pier at 10.35pm – after which the full series will be on iPlayer.

• The Golden Cobra (review star review star review blank star review blank star review blank star)  is available to view here.

Review date: 23 Nov 2021
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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