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With New BBC Show, Will Frankie Boyle Succeed Where Other British TV Satire Hosts Have Failed?

Ofcom will, no doubt, be watching.

27/04/2017 12:36

Frankie Boyle will sitting in the hot seat for a brand new topical news show on BBC Two.

BBC Two controller Patrick Holland announced today that he had recruited the controversial comedian for the gig, following his success deconstructing both the UK election in 2015, and events in the US last year, in ‘Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy’ and ‘Frankie Boyle’s American Autopsy’ respectively - both shows were aired first on BBCiPlayer, and then on network TV.  

Patrick told journalists the new weekly show would be “tightly edited” to keep it as topical as possible. He also explained the show would be going out AFTER the election. What he hasn’t confirmed yet is whether the programme will be transmitted live, or pre-recorded - something that could make all the difference to Ofcom’s red pen, considering Frankie’s previous form of stirring up strong feeling. 

PA Archive/PA Images
Frankie Boyle will be back on screen, after the election

Since the Brits pioneered the genre in the 1960s with ‘That Was The Week That Was’, TV satire has had its highs but more recently its lulls on our screens. Perhaps Frankie is the man to succeed where others have failed at using a TV platform to poke necessary thorns in the side of public figures and institutions.

While the ‘Have I Got News For You’ juggernaut continues to chug along, now in its 53rd season, other shows have come and gone. ‘Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe’ started confidently in 2013, but was criticised for its distracting mixture of elements, including witty monologue as well as chat show segment. It lasted for three series, but has more recently been decanted into a much-anticipated annual end-of-year treat.

Meanwhile, BBC Three’s ’The Revolution Will Be Televised’ won a BAFTA on its first time out, and its presenters were fearless in lampooning the hypocrisy of politicians. However, after three series, it seems the well of witty outrage has run dry, just when we need it most.

Over on ITV, there’s ‘The Nightly Show’, which finished its first run last week, and which doesn’t seem poised to trouble the policy makers of our age any, or audiences, come to that. And, right now, that’s about it - apart from the excellent ‘The Last Leg’ on Channel 4, which began with the London Paralympics, but has long since expanded its brief.

In the US it’s a very different story. Donald Trump’s arrival in the White House and the ensuing administrative chaos has pumped up the muscles of comedians across the TV stations, both network and cable.

While Jimmy Kimmel took responsibility for making Trump seem personable with a ruffle of his hair on his ‘Tonight’ chat show, he also harpooned him during the Oscars, live-tweeting him halfway through the ceremony - perhaps inspired by Jimmy Fallon’s similarly approach during the Golden Globes weeks earlier.

Over on cable, Trevor Noah chuckles on a daily basis at the latest absurdities.

However, the real, untiring outrage comes from one of our own - John Oliver in his self-titled show on HBO. The British comedian who broke through on ‘The Daily Show’ has seldom taken a break in his pot-shots at the Donald - in fact, seasoned observers even suspect the unrelenting targeting may even have contributed to the success of Trump’s presidential campaign. 

Like South African Trevor Noah, West Midlands-born John Oliver grew up thousands of miles away from the nation he observes with such interest, sometimes disdain, sometimes delight. 

Perhaps it takes an outsider for a proper perspective. Or just someone with the unblinking gall of Frankie Boyle. Watch this space, as no doubt Ofcom and many other interested observers will be. 

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