Despite being buried away in a rather unforgivable slot late on a Monday night on BBC One, Tracey Ullman’s Show performed incredibly well, perhaps to the BBC’s surprise considering the 10:45pm slot the show was given.
With Channel 4 no longer commissioning sketch shows (it’s for YouTube apparently), The Javone Prince Show not rating well and David Walliams’ latest offering Walliams & Friend rating rather poorly the sketch show is definitely the poorer sibling when it comes to comedy, but that’s not to say that when a brilliant one lands it can’t work – as series one of Tracey Ullman’s Show proved last year.
The first episode of series one achieved an overnight audience of 2.9m (23.6% share), and it’s good to see the BBC haven’t been put off by recent ratings for Walliams & Friend as the second series has been promoted to a far more attractive 9:30pm slot on a Friday evening.
I must admit, it’s not often I’m given entire series to preview before they air, usually I get the first and second episode at most, but not with Tracey Ullman’s Show – I was given the entire series which I inhaled in one rather enjoyable three-hour sitting.
Of course the old favourites are back; Dame Judi Dench, Angela Merkel and Dame Maggie Smith.
In the opening couple of episodes Dame Judi Dench is caught chucking dog poo up a tree, causing havoc in an art gallery by knocking the rather valuable items over.
Dame Maggie Smith has catapulted into the 21st century and has opened up her own YouTube channel, with vlogs varying from the standard “What’s in my bag?” video, through to making prank phone calls to her illustrious contact list.
As you would expect, there are some great new characters introduced in the second series.
The new faces include a rather sexualised Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall, self-named “clitoral pioneer” Germaine Greer, Clare “I’ll present anything” Balding, a far too happy Adele and Nicola Sturgeon who kidnaps JK Rowling so that she can tweet about her support for Scottish independence.
Also, remember when people complained about BBC One drama being difficult to understand? And accused the actors of mumbling? Well, Tracey addresses this at the very start of the series in the best way possible and there are further references to the BBC at the start of each episode
Tracey Ullman’s Show is not all about celebrities of course, as Tracey proves that she can do ordinary just as well as celebrity and the two can co-exist in one sketch show.
In each episode you’ll hear from the same dying woman, who every time we see wishes she’d done more with her life – played more Candy Crush, posted more pictures of her lunch on the internet or looked at more clickbait articles.
There’s also a brilliant supporting cast including; impressionist Luke Kempner (Murder In Successville), ex-Eurovision, ex-Sugababe Jade Ewen, Dan Skinner (House of Fools), Ricky Champ (Him & Her), Kevin Bishop (Porridge), Elizabeth Berrington (Stella), Tony Gardner (Fresh Meat), Emily Atack (The Inbetweeners) and Rufus Jones (Stag).
If you don’t catch the first series of Tracey Ullman’s Show, it really doesn’t matter. That’s the beauty of a sketch show, you can dip in and out whenever you want, but you should definitely dip in.
When the quality is this good, long live the sketch show on television I say!
Tracey Ullman’s Show returns Friday 3rd February at 9:30pm on BBC One