Pick of the Night

The Evening Standard (London, England), May 20, 2005 | Go to article overview

Pick of the Night


Byline: IMOGEN RIDGWAY

Monkey Trousers / Scrubs / Will and Grace 10pm, ITV1 / 8pm, 8.30pm, Channel 4

FRIDAY night is comedy night, then- just in case you were in any doubt. But while Four brings back two familiar US series, ITV1 flies in the face of its role as the celebrity-fluff channel and broadcasts a credible British sketch show. What's going on, chaps? You're not BBC3.

Oh hang on, perhaps Monkey Trousers contains so many top-end comedy faces that it counts as "celebrity" television. That's all right, then.

Jointly produced by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer's company, Pett, and Steve Coogan and Henry Normal's Baby Cow, Monkey Trousers (which used to be called the All Star Comedy Show) is a bit like the Fast Show, only without the incessant catchphrases: short, character-driven sketches with a fair amount of laugh-out-loud silliness.

So, Alastair McGowan and Ronni Ancona (right) star alongside a pipe-smoking Patsy Palmer in a 1950s version of Footballers' Wives, Bob Mortimer plays a useless estate agent, and Mackenzie Crook (Gareth from The Office) is a man with an unfortunate sneezing habit. John Thomson also pops up, with a daft take on those "Have you been injured at work?" adverts.

The humour in US hospital comedy Scrubs also derives from its silliness.

Series three makes its terrestrial debut tonight, with an awful lot of slapstick, ranging from doctors crashing into trolleys to car doors being wrenched off. And, despite its Wonder Yearstype voiceover, Scrubs always manages to stay on the right side of cheesy. Is physical comedy the cure for schmaltz?

Following Scrubs, it's the sixth series of Will and Grace, the gay-straight-mates sitcom, and the central characters seem to spend much of the opening episode shouting "oh!" and "eeuw" at each other. Some more jokes would be nice.

Timewatch: Britain's Lost Colosseum

9pm, BBC2

I'm shocked. This documentary about the archaeological dig examining the remains of a possible Roman amphitheatre in Chester actually made me giggle.

Okay, so I laughed because in their search for Roman artefacts, the team actually came across a milk bottle and a packet of peanuts dating from a previous dig of the 1960s, but hey - archaeology and laughs are usually as mismatched as Celebrity Wrestling and viewers.

Anyway, this Timewatch film tells the story of attempts to unearth an amphitheatre underneath a roundabout in Chester.

Enthusiastic beardies Tony Wilmott and Dan Garner (above) get stuck in with their spades, uncovering souvenirs from what may have been a gladiatorial arena. …

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