Bite-size reviews are
Spoiler Free

On the main review pages we cover selected comedy programmes which are also issued as posts.
This page of  bite-size reviews of some individual episodes, recurring series and some new shows.


Ratings are based on comedy content not drama

Very Good

Intelligence: The Special Agent Special – Sky Comedy

The first two series of Intelligence, created, written by and starring Nick Mohammed were not good enough to justify a third series. (See Review) Maybe that’s the reason Sky decided on a one-off ‘Special Agent Special’. Or maybe, and more likely, the idea has worn too thin to sustain a full series. On top of which Nick Mohammed is busy with his UK-wide stand-up tour ‘The Very Best And Worst Of Mr Swallow’, his alter ego character.

Intelligence struggles with the bumbling secret agent theme and doesn’t come close to chaos of Maxwell Smart in the successful 60s sitcom, Get Smart or Rowan Atkinson’s hapless Johnny England. The situations are frankly ludicrous, the slapstick tired and there simply aren’t enough funny lines to make this a sustainable comedy. Diane Morgan was either too busy herself or too wise to reprise her role as Joseph’s love interest in this special.

Despite the inane script the performances are good. The cast has an excellent pedigree with David Schwimmer (Jerry), Jane Stanness (Mary), Sylvestra Le Touzel (Christine), Gana Bayarsaikhan (Tuva) and joining the regular cast as Joanna Telfer-Fotheringham, a Government minister on the make, is Jennifer Saunders. 

Hopefully Jerry will now go back to the States and this particular department of GCHQ Cheltenham will recruit some competent staff.

However, I fear not.

Black Ops     BBC and iPlayer

Black Ops is a comedy. Yes, an actual comedy!

Our screens are populated with far too many so-called comedies that are really dramas with the odd line of humorous repartee or sharp ripostes and far too few that are out and out comedies. Thankfully Black Ops is one of those few current true comedies.

You’ll find details and interviews with the main stars here.


Black Ops follows bright but apathetic Dom (Gbemisola Ikumelo) and wide-eyed religious Kay (Hammed Animashaun) both of whom have no more ambition than their roles as community support officers afford them.

An opportunity arises for the pair to be catapulted into the roles of undercover cops for which they are unprepared. As Dom put’s it “we’re not street”. Meaning that as both come from secure middle-class homes and backgrounds neither is suited to mingling with violent drug gangs – how right she is.

There are plenty of light references to, and hints at, racism within the force but such is the quality of writing and spot-on delivery of everyone involved that the laughs come thick and fast, without the point being lost.

There will no doubt be detractors who take issue with perceived stereotyping but they should just wind their necks in, sit back, relax and just enjoy a good laugh.

A Right Royal Mess   BBC
Queen of Oz,Portraits,Queen Georgiana (CATHERINE TATE),BBC,Lorenzo Agius

Queen of Oz Review : “Team Queen? Team shit!” proclaims Princess Georgiana (Catherine Tate) and she’s not wrong.

This sorry excuse for a sitcom might have seemed a good idea for a two-minute recurring piece on her, excellent defunct sketch show but, as her ancestor might have said, we are not amused.

Of course, as you’d expect, there are one or two laughs along the way but throughout you can’t help thinking aah, that’s Nan or that’s Bridget or that’s the screamer. When pushed by her private- secretary,  her PR executive or even Rebecca the Australian PM, you are just waiting for Georgiana to say “ Am I bovvered? Look at my face, am I bovvered? In fact you can almost feel Catherine herself straining not to say it.

Queen of Oz,1,Queen Georgiana (Catherine Tate),Queen Georgiana (Catherine Tate)visits a school in London,Lingo,Lisa Tomasetti

Setting up the Princess Georgiana character with a disastrous visit to a school would, and did, make a acceptable two minute opening sketch but it was not sustainable.

Taking a fantastic sketch character like Nan and putting her into a full length feature film proved to be a step too far. Similar can be said for this disgraceful member of a fictitious Royal family. Even one episode is too long: the second was no better and a full six-part sitcom is mind numbing.

Time for her highness to abdicate.

Wellmania    Netflix

Celeste Barber is a proven physical comedian and an Instagram sensation her mix of crude Aussie straight-talking and superficial middle-class suburban  attitudes makes for an absorbing combination in this sitcom.

In Wellmania, Liv Healy (Barber) , an Australian journalist living in the US, is offered a potential place on the judging panel of a new cooking competition but to get ion the TV show she has four weeks to prove herself to the world of food.. But first, she has already arranged to fly back to Sydney to attend her best and oldest friend, Amy’s. birthday party, (played by JJ Fong). What could go wrong?. Everything.

Back in Oz she loses her US green card and to be given a temporary one by the American consulate’s office has to improve her fitness before she will be allowed back. Liv, desperate not to miss her TV chance of a lifetime gives herself four weeks to get fit enough to pass the medical. So  she enters the world of Wellness for which she is physically unsuited.

Barber’s brand of humour flourishes in this very watchable and enjoyable comedy-dram

The Big Door Prize    Apple TV+

Based on M.O. Walsh’s novel of the same name, “The Big Door Prize” tells the story of a small town that is forever changed when a mysterious machine appears in the general store, promising to reveal each resident’s true life potential. It’s a sort of coin operated electronic arcade ‘tell your fortune’ machine.

Do not ask how the machine got there or from whence it came: it’s sci-fi so just accept the premise.

Dusty Hubbard (Chris O’Dowd), a seemingly content, cheerful family man and high school teacher, watches everyone around him reevaluate their life choices and ambitions — based on the machine’s printouts — and is forced to question whether he is truly as happy as he once thought. While he remains skeptical of the machine, his wife, Cass (Gabrielle Dennis), indulges in the dream that there’s something bigger out there for her. Like many of Deerfield’s residents, the couple has lived a relatively safe, uncomplicated life, until the arrival of the Morpho machine. However, all of that changes when the community is forced to reconcile with their unfulfilled achievements in pursuit of a better future.

It has warmth and some very funny moments combining to make it another very watchable series from Apple TV+.

Rain Dogs    BBC

You have to look and listen hard to find the humour in Rain Dogs but it’s worth the trouble. Rain Dogs is about a single mum and recovering alcoholic , Costello Jones, convincingly portrayed by Daisy May Cooper, clinging on to the underbelly of society, treading water on the poverty line, struggling to maintain moral viability and clinging to unhealthy friendships to survive in Britain’s broken welfare state.

It dwells in a dark place. A dark place inhabited by seedy lowlife characters. Yet despite her financial predicament the resourceful Costello manages to dress her daughter and herself well, keep them fed  and a roof over their heads by resorting to whatever means necessary.

Her continued survival largely relies on her friendship with the degenerate Selby (Jack Farthing) a’rich boy’ gone wrong, and long suffering friend, mortician Gloria (Ronke Adekoluejo).

Some scenes will make you cringe with distaste, others will make you realise that some have so few chances in life. Nevertheless it has its comedic moments of lighter relief but those moments are still very dark indeed. I’m not sure Rain Dogs fits into the comedy drama genre but, as a commentary on broken Britain, it’s a window on those who society is failing. 

One thing is for sure: there’s a bright, bright future ahead for Fleur Tashjian who plays Iris, Castello’s resilient young daughter.

Blockbuster. (L to R) Melissa Fumero as Eliza, Randall Park as Timmy in Blockbuster. Cr. Ricardo Hubbs/Netflix © 2022
Blockbuster – Netflix

This new Netflix workplace comedy is dire. Not a laugh in it. Even the story is yawn inducing. With more staff than customers it’s easy to see why the franchise didn’t survive in the streaming environment. Cannot believe that this hapless uninspiring sitcom will get a second season.


The Horne Section TV Show – C4

If you are one of the Legion of fans who regularly tune in to Taskmaster, the brilliant award-winning show created by Alex Horne then The Horne Section Show might be for you. It is ‘Little’ Alex Horne, the Taskmaster’s assistant, being ‘Little’ Alex Horne the Taskmaster’s assistant whilst at home making a surreal TV show. It’s like he’s been given a task of his own with no time limit.

It’s silly, chaotic, amusing and watchable if you’re a fan, but unlike Taskmaster, it’s not particularly funny.

After Life 3 – Netflix

For the first time, Ricky Gervais has written a third series of one of his creations and what a job he’s done of it. Gervais is not everyone’s cup of tea but that’s never bothered him. He says it as he sees it.

If you are one of the 100m+ households worldwide who have viewed the first two series then, unlike many of the dour critics and reviewers, you will love the conclusion to Tony’s story. As every tubby little ginger boy knows, the language is off the scale but the sentiments are real life.

If you like shows that make you weep and laugh in equal measure: that wrench at your heart strings whilst boosting your serotonin levels: that deal with the grief of a lost loved one with painful reality yet humour then ignore the naysayers and watch this Netflix phenomenon.

A Night In: Alton Towers – Channel 4

Carr’s game show followed a ‘Night In’ (C4) in which we find the ubiquitous Josh Widdicombe and pal Alex Brooker spending a night in unusual locations with a celebrity friend. The first episode saw the pair joined by Roisin Conaty to spend a night doing a one hour commercial for Alton Towers. With so much excellent TV available on so many channels and streamers, there simply isn’t enough time to waste watching drivel like this.

Fun for them maybe: for the viewing public not so much.

The Weakest Link – BBC One

The Weakest Link was another complete waste of 45 minutes, despite the equally ubiquitous, Romesh Ranganathan’s best efforts to generate tension. The return of this iconic quiz show saw it downgraded to the realms of a purile celebrity game show. The first edition was called a ‘Strictly Special’: a blatant attempt at capitalising on the dance show’s popularity, which followed it.

As so often happens with ‘celebrity quiz shows’ the level of the questions is dumbed down so far that they hold no challenge for viewers at home and therefore make the hubris of the celebs answering them somewhat embarrassing.

If it was a one off ‘Strictly Special’ on final night it would be instantly, and justifiably, forgettable, however as a series of 12 it will no doubt grab the early evening audience, thanks to Ranganathan’s popularity.

Would I Lie To You – BBC One

Back for its 15th season this is without doubt the funniest panel show on television. How team captains, David Mitchell and Lee Mack, have maintained such a high level over those years is remarkable. They along with host, Rob Brydon, deliver half an hour of the funniest television you’ll see.

All celebrity panel shows depend to a large extent on the ability of the guests. In WILTY they have to lie convincingly or tell the truth unconvincingly. Part of the viewers enjoyment is guessing whether the story is true or a lie. Some guests tell such a detailed story that they are clearly true. Others like, Holly Willoughby in last week’s episode, can lie exceptionally well. However there is none better at the art than Bob Mortimer whose almost surreal elaborations of both truth and fiction are simply brilliant and always the highlight of every series.

Outsiders – Dave Wednesdays 10pm

Could pairs of comedians survive in the wild (well rural England) without mode-cons? Outsiders won’t really answer that question because the pairs go about their tasks for comic effect and great effect it is too.
Women have dominated TV comedy this year, so it is no surprise that the irrepressible trio of Kerry Godliman, Lou Sanders and Jessica Knappett are the key to making this series great fun to watch. Paired up with Toussaint Douglass, Ed Gamble and the rebellious Jamali Maddix respectively the six comedians provide a very enjoyable hours entertainment supervised by that well known rugged outdoorsman David Mitchell (sarcasm), Mitchell judges their efforts and awards scout type badges. Not many badges will be awarded for sure.  It’s fun watching people have fun.


Hitmen: Reloaded – Sky Comedy 

The second series of this underrated show got off to a bang with Jamie (Mel Giedroyc) and Fran (Sue Perkins) dealing with a dangerous canine before attending their school reunion. Much like Johnny English, the earnest but inept pair, always manage to complete their assignments despite the mayhem that surrounds them.
Meeting their old classmates brings back unwelcome Dickensian memories for Fran and rekindles old flames for Jamie. Katherine Parkinson enters the fray hinting at some sinister events in future episodes which begin to manifest themselves in episode 2 where Jessica Knappett turns up indoors this time for a cameo. As in the first series, Mel and Sue are a funny, if unlikely, combination for Hitmen.

I Literally Just Told You – Channel 4

The concept behind ‘I Literally Just Told You’ (C4) is simple enough – contestants (members of the public) have to answer questions based on their recall of oral and visual clues mentioned or seen in the preceding parts of the show.
Jimmy Carr was a good choice to host this new game show, his mildly sarcastic/ mocking approach was very much needed for what would otherwise be a pretty mundane attempt at entertainment. Fortunately Jimmy controlled his irritating laugh.

As usual the opener had a bumper cash prize to hook viewers and if contestant one, Al from Cornwall, wasn’t a ringer employed to make mistakes so that the game appeared tougher, he certainly did that job very well. Why Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, the eminent space scientist, was a question setter on the show is a mystery. .

Plenty of scope here for viewer participation so it might catch on. rating

Never Mind The Buzzcocks

Welcome back! Fortunately Sky have not taken the surgeon’s knife to the original basic format. Still has the same rounds, intros, next line, line up (with a twist) et al.  
The opening sequence was frankly embarrassingly pointless and not funny: hope they’re not showing that every week.
Greg Davies is a brilliant choice as the new host as are Daisy May Cooper and Noel Fielding as team captains (the latter being in the original show). It was a joyously funny half hour with regular team member Jamali Maddix alongside Nish Kumar, Jade Thirlwall, from Little Mix and Anne-Marie all contributing to the hilarity. The format works but naturally the quality of each show is totally dependent on the personality and performance of the team members.
The first episode got off to a flyer. rating

The Complaints Department

A new format that resembles televised Twitter. A much better format for host Jason Manford than his exceedingly dull quiz, Unbeatable. In this show Manford shines as he does on stage in his hilarious Like Me tour. Complaints Department is another show that is totally dependent on the quality of the panel to make it work and so far it has worked extremely well. Jimmy Carr, in the first episode refrained from dominating events (as he usually does), Russell Kane has strong views on almost everything as does Sarah Millican in the second show.

The format relies on the public for making real life complaints, the researchers for finding them and Manford for holding the whole thing together. Overall a surprisingly watchable and enjoyable show. rating

Taskmaster S12

When the line-up for the series was announced it didn’t seem to promise a great deal of chemistry but such is Alex Horne’s alchemy that the chemistry works. Series 12 promises to be another winner.
The Taskmaster, Greg Davies, is on top form; the tasks are on the money and, as usual, the contestants are not all showing the same level of initial enthusiasm. Victoria Coren Mitchell is coming across as a maiden aunt reluctantly forced into joining in Christmas festivities. However Taskmaster has a habit of generating a competitive spirit and no doubt this group, including VCM will be no different.
The version that was erroneously transmitted with expletives deleted must have rendered Morgana Robinson speechless!
Taskmaster aficionados need have no fear, this series maintains the incredibly high standards of the previous eleven. rating

The Holden Girls: Mandy and Myrtle

First of all a confession: I’m not a fan of Leigh Francis, in any of his many guises, so was not looking forward to his portrayal of Amanda Holden’s nan in this fly-on-the-wall mockumentary. But, putting that aside, it is funny and does not deserve the scathing reviews it has had.

Holden allows herself to be the butt of nan’s humour with grace. Having said that, it will probably wear pretty thin as a series and maybe one or two episodes is enough so as not to spoil the joke. rating
Late Night Mash Episode 2

The second Late Night Mash on Dave was much stronger than the first. Sharper writing and Nish Kumar looked a lot more settled into his new home. Ahir Shar did well taking over Geoff Norcott’s spot however he really must learn to read an autocue better or the cameras need to stay side on.

Rachel Parris was absent with The Delightful Sausage (Amy Gledhill and Christopher Cantrill) standing in with a piece on vaccinations. Ellie Taylor was also AWOL with Stevie Martin seamlessly standing in behind the news desk. As a current affairs sketch show it holds up remarkably well, rating

British As Folk E1 on Dave

If you feel in need of a joyous time spent in good company then look no further than British as Folk (a title presumably devised by Dave’s nudge, nudge, wink, wink committee). An hour with Fern Brady, Darren Harriott and Ivo Graham as they meet the good folk of Leicester will get the endorphins flowing, raise a wide smile and bring you joy.

How refreshing it is to have a travelogue with three relatively and woefully underexposed comedians taking us on a tour of the country to “uncover the real Britain, the one we don’t get to see” as the logline says. rating

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders host French and Saunders: Funny Women

French and Saunders: Funny Women

Well, they seemed to enjoy it.

The clips, most of which hadn’t been seen for a long time, were too short and the links too long.
It was a vast subject and would have benefitted from being, say 3 x 60, in order to do the female subjects justice.
The links seemed laboured, added little to the show and were somewhat repetitive, especially Dawn’s frequent shouting to camera.

Overall not their best night. rating

Ghosts series 3

“Gently humorous, thoroughly charming series.” summarised my view of series two. That description still applies to series three but the writers, who also created Horrible Histories, are now melding the two productions to the point where they are becoming indistinguishable. Much of episode one tells the story, in Shakespearean play-within-a-play style, of how Humphrey Bone came to be beheaded during the reign of Queen Bess.

Nevertheless, Ghosts is good, clean family entertainment and a welcome returnee to our screens with Charlotte Ritchie shining as always. rating

Code 404

This second series is every bit as funny, in a sort of Police Squad way, as the first series. Which you really should watch before embarking on the second.
DI John Major (Daniel Mays) is flashing up Code: 404 computer code for a server error, and the one in his brain appears to be malfunctioning and deteriorating. Crime-fighting partner DI Roy Carver (Stephen Graham) comes to his assistance with the help of American scientist Dr Parfitt. The slapstick and one-liners will make you laugh.

One big surprise is that Anna Maxwell Martin has legs. Who knew? rating

Inside No9: Last Night of the Proms
Monday June 14th

What a series finale. Last Night of the Proms was a superb end to series 6 of Inside No9. BAFTA award winning creators and writers Pemberton and Shearsmith continually amaze with their one-off dark comedies and last night’s was no exception. No spoilers here, so you’ll have to watch it to laugh at the twists and turns and the ultimate reveal. Another brilliant cast including 86 year old Julian Glover.

Understand that series 7 is already in preparation. Can’t wait. rating

Intelligence Series 2

If you are one of the unfortunate few who waded through 6 episodes of this drivel to find the few laughs in this overhyped nonsense, then I sympathise.
Finally the incompetent Joseph gets fired from GCHQ but won’t leave and the equally incompetent Jerry gets kidnapped. A very good point at which to leave this twaddle behind but, it will no doubt be recommissioned, so I guess Nick Mohammed will write himself back into a job and the kidnappers will release Jerry before he drives them suicidal.
Underwhelming stuff and nonsense. rating

Aisling Bea stars in series 2 of This Way Up

This Way Up Series 2

This Way Up is a glorious confection, both sweet and sharp, but delicious nevertheless.
Aisling Bea, creator, writer and co-star has blended together superb, believable characters, added a generous sprinkling of hilarity: a dash of pathos and a pinch of soulfulness and created a script that has risen like a perfect soufflé served with a quenelle of perfect cast.

A definite binge watch rating

Inside No9: Hurry Up And Wait Monday 31st May

Another intriguing dramedy from Pemberton and Shearsmith. A timid bit part actor, playing a policeman in a crime reconstruction, becomes too involved in the case before being out manoeuvred by one of Britain’s top actors. Superb cast as always. rating

Breeders Episode 2

Thursday 3rd June

Could it be possible that young Luke’s problem was caused by being sworn at for all of his 13 years? In episode 2 dad, Paul, doesn’t swear at him (or anyone else for that matter). He and Ally are dealing with whatever is troubling their son with parental kindness and compassion not violent outbursts of profanity. And do you know what, the show was all the more enjoyable for it. rating

Inside No9 – How Do You Plead
Monday June 7th

Humour as dark as Whitby Jet and performances as perfect as always, last night’s episode of Inside No9, guest starring the incomparable Derek Jacobi, continued the incredible run from BAFTA award winners Pemberton and Shearsmith. Episodes like this will make it nigh on impossible for anyone to wrest future awards from their hands. Only one more episode to go in this series. Shame rating

Russell Howard Stands Up to the World
Monday 31st May

A great example of how one of our top comedians gathers material by travelling the world and how New Zealand are keeping Covid out through quarantine. The ‘travelogue’ (sans Mum) dug up some fascinating characters on which he based his stand-up routine delivered to full audiences in a Covid free NZ. rating

Inside No9 –  Lip Service
Monday 24th May

The script took us on a real cork screw journey with subtle comedy as a companion. Sian Clifford was perfect with yet another superb performance by both Steve Pemberton as the cuckold and Reece Shearsmith as the punctilious hotel manager. rating

We Are Ladyparts
Thursday 20th May

Interesting mix of culture, music and darkish comedy. Definitely one for Zoomers. Promising start to the series, now to watch the rest on All4 before a full review


Inside No9 – Simon Says 
Monday 17th May

Dark dramedy episode with more twists than The Corkscrew at Alton Towers. Sharp script and outstanding performances. Another triumph for Pemberton and Shearsmith rating

Murder They Hope – Evil Under The Bun –Saturday 15th May

Episode 2 gives a whole new meaning to Bake Off. It’s lighthearted, funny with several laugh out loud moments. Listen out for, writer, Jason Cook’s homage to The Fast Show delivered by Paul Whitehouse.