The Island | Review of Dave's new format hosted by Tom Allen © UKTV
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The Island

Review of Dave's new format hosted by Tom Allen

I watched Dave’s new comedy format The Island, not knowing it had been devised by stand-ups James AcasterEd GambleLloyd Langford and John Robins when they got stranded in New York by a storm. That fact came as something as a surprise, given the show feels less than an idea created organically by some fine comic minds, and more like the brainchild of a UKTV exec trying to engineer something to fill a Taskmaster-shaped hole left after their biggest show got poached by Channel 4.

Like Alex Horne’s creation, The Island features the same line-up of comedians across the eight-part series and asks them to compete against each other in a series of challenges. But that’s far as the similarities go. Most of the rounds in this studio-bound format involve the panel – Sara Pascoe, Johnny Vegas, Ninia Benjamin and Ahir Shah – talking rather than doing. Nor does The Island have its precursor’s flair for absurdity, nor that delightfully awkward, abusive relationship between Horne and Greg Davies.

The premise is that the comics are the survivors of a cruise-ship disaster – which allows host Tom Allen to don a nautical-style cravat and blazer, as if he needs a reason –  and each now land on a different island and have to make a series of decisions to build the best society. Though they are all flighty and trivial ones.

They start by naming their island, all reflecting their personalities.  Pascoe calls hers the Magical Island, with hope and a touch of whimsy, smartypants Shah names his Poyais, after a real historical incident, Vegas calls his Sale Now On to draw people looking for bargains, and Benjamin plays it dumb by plumping for St Benjamininia, which she explains, helpfully: ‘It’s my name backwards, but not actually my name backwards, my surname is in front of my first name and then there’s a "Saint" there…’

In episode one, our quartet also decide on their celebrity chiefs of police, describe what trademark cocktails they want to create, play a trivia game and make busts of themselves – which seems a cheat for trained potter Vegas.

But the stakes are low, and the shows stretches its premise out. At many points it seems like nothing more than a series of mini-podcasts as guests shoot the breeze around a laboured, pointless premise.

Talking of which, the faux on-the-ground reports from Kemah Bob and Jason Forbes exist only to hammer home the message we are in a post-shipwreck word, but seem superfluous, filling time in a show that should never be an hour, and certainly not eight of them.  That’s a lot in the company of the same people talking roundabout nonsense, no matter how much good value Johnny  Vegas is.

Aptly, this long-winded show is unlikely to really float your boat.

Review date: 23 Mar 2022
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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