The Armstrong & Miller Show Review: A Bit Sketchy

October 15, 2009 by  
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THE ARMSTRONG & MILLER SHOW: Friday 16th October, BBC One, 9pm Alert Me

There’s an absence of good comedy sketch shows on at the moment, what with Little Britain and Catherine Tate off the air and the delights of Big Train and The Fast Show long behind us.

Thank goodness for Armstrong and Miller then, who return to our screens with series two of The Armstrong and Miller Show this October.

There are some welcome returning characters from the first series. The street-talking RAF Pilots who still retain their upper class accents is a stroke of genius, this time up in front of a firing squad for “bombing Portsmouth? – and in particularly shows off Alexander Armstrong’s incredible gift for mimicry and accents.

Brabbins and Fyffe (a parody of comic lyricists Flanders and Swann) are just as bawdy and hilarious as they were the first time round and the grunting cavemen interpreted by subtitles make a welcome return (this time with the invention of hair dressing).

There are some strong new additions too, including Reconstruction Claims Direct, a parody of ambulance-chasing legal adverts and a teacher messing about behind his students’ backs during an exam.

However, the highlight of the new material is easily a skit involving childrens’ TV presenters explaining their extra-curricular nefarious deeds to a childrens audience which is absolutely hilarious; if only Richard Bacon was asked to apologise in exactly the same way. Armstrong’s “And then I accidentally bit him on the nose, quite hard and now realise this was wrong? line was echoing in my head for ages afterwards although it’s probably not destined to become a schoolyard catchphrase.

It’s hard for a sketch show to be universally funny all the time though and some things falter in the second half. Jilted Jim, awkwardly inserting himself into a honeymooning couple’s holiday plans isn’t very funny and you can see it coming a long way off and accident prone historian Dennis Lincoln-Park is predictable and unimaginative.

But these misfires are few, and there are enough solid gags to keep you smiling. It doesn’t have the instantly recognisable catch phrases of Little Britain (to its credit actually) or the perpetual genius of The Fast Show, but for now, it’s still the best sketch show on TV.

Jez Sands