'W1A' Episode 2 Review: Clare Balding, Jenni Murray, Carol Vorderman Provide Cameos In BBC Comedy

The second instalment of 'W1A' found newly-installed BBC Head of Values Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) having to explain himself to Woman's Hour… in Manchester, "because it's Friday, that's just the way it is."

To add to his joy, Perfect Curver Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) was in on the trip, adding her pearls of wisdom, or whatever they are. "I am listening, you two just aren't saying the right thing." The scary thing about this bizarre creature is she exists, all too often, in the media world. I've seen and heard her, I swear.

An unimpressed Clare Balding provided a convincing cameo in this week's 'W1A'

Meanwhile, producers Lucy and David were dealing with their worst dreams come true - not just Carol "ticks all the boxes for us" Vorderman but Clare "national treasure" Balding both available for the same presenting gig, until they were both mismanaged out of the job. Fortunately, David was able to explain it away in forensic fashion, "I just got a text out of nowhere."

Strategic Governance's Simon Harwood (Jason Watkins) continues to be a grotesque joy (the constant smile never quite reaching the spectacles), with other scenes the poorer for his absence, and 'W1A' as a whole continues to highlight the delightful horrors of corporate-speak, PC-gone-wrong and middle managers desperately trying to get through the day in one piece.

I'm just not sure how much the jokes actually rely on it being the BBC, which is perhaps why 'Auntie' has felt confident making it. The show has yet to delve into the kernel of the real paradox of the Corporation's 21st century challenges (commercial rival/public remit, entertain/educate, etc), and hold them up for inspection, as 'The Thick of It' did for government…

But, fair enough, that might just prove a heart of darkness too far for pleasurable midweek viewing. Far more straightford to ask Carol Vorderman to cameo, throw the name Alan Titchmarsh into a gag and be done, I imagine.

W1A is available on iPlayer, and continues next Wednesday on BBC2.

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