Opinion: The British Comedy Awards – It's All In The Timing

British Comedy Awards

I had a man in to sort out my central heating earlier this week and inevitably the subject turned to comedy. I asked him who his favourite was. “The little fella” he said. After a bit of guesswork it turned out the little fella was Michael McIntyre. As he tinkered with my boiler I told him that I couldn’t help noticing that he had an Irish accent. What about all those brilliant Irish comedians? He seemed to prefer McIntyre.

I don’t know if he was watching the British Comedy Awards on C4 last night but they might as well have been dubbed the Irish Comedy Awards. By some strange quirk of fate the Irish dominated the prize-giving this year. Brendan O’Carroll picked up the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain Award. Graham Norton won Best Comedy Entertainment Personality and his chat show won Best Comedy Entertainment Programme. Aisling Bea won Best Female TV Comic. Chris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy won Best sitcom.  

And offscreen there was a strong Irish influence too. Katherine Parkinson won Best TV Comedy Actress for the IT Crowd – written by Graham Linehan, while his Father Ted co-creator Arthur Mathews co-writes Toast of London, which won Best New Comedy Programme. 

It was a bit of an odd year for the Awards. For one thing, they weren’t broadcast live, which meant that there would be no possibility of an excitingly naughty Julian Clary Fisting Surprise. Nor was it broadcast with a slight delay, where at least the announcement of the winners would been a surprise to viewers.

Instead the programme went out a day after it had been filmed, so all the results had been made public by then. I heard a rumour that this was because last year the broadcast overran and final prizewinner Steve Coogan did not have a chance to deliver his full acceptance speech. By pre-recording the show and editing it to fit the timeslot there was no chance of this happening again.

But it also meant that the room the show was being filmed in felt slightly flat. People wandered around knowing that if they were in shot in the wrong place they could always be edited out. The frisson of Event TV was missing, which was a shame as this was the 25th year of the awards. I’m not going to comment on the sponsors, but let’s just say that compared to classic past Comedy Awards nights the evening was a Lidl disappointing. I was there and there was more fizz in my free Orangina than there was onstage. It really must be transmitted on the night in future years. That can't be so hard to organise, can it?

As for that Irish contingent, it even extended to the Lifetime Achievement Award winners, Monty Python. Odd that not one of the surviving Pythons could make it to the Wembley Studio on the night, but at least Ireland’s very own Dara O’Briain got to announce the prize. Sadly for my gas man, Michael McIntyre didn't get a look-in.

To see all the winners click here.


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