TV Review: Unspun With Matt Forde, Dave

Matt Forde’s new political series nearly hit the buffers before it had even been recorded. Forde’s first guest was scheduled to be Labour leadership contender Owen Smith, but he pulled out. Forde suggested on the show that Smith was concerned about appearing laddish. It was a shame, but his stand-in, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson was good value for money anyway.

Smith may have had a small point though. Forde has carved out a reputation with his live Political Party shows as an astute commentator. On television, where quick success is essential, he went for the easier giggles though. He certainly got a lot of laughs out of a YouGov survey into the sexual preferences of voters. 

I’m not sure if Jon Stewart or Trevor Noah would have talked about this subject in quite the same way and to this show’s detriment and credit, the closest comparison was The Daily Show rather than anything on British television at the moment. Forde might have played it for laughs but he was also serious, covering most of the issues in the news at the moment, from the US election to David Cameron’s resignation via Brexit and Keith Vaz. The show moved briskly from topic to topic without giving the audience a chance to be bored.

Luckily the best was saved until last and the chat with Alan Johnson. The interview neatly summed the split personality of the programme. On the one hand Johnson was asked about the Referendum and his relationship - or rather non-relationship - with Jeremy Corbyn, on the other hand he was also asked his views on spanking. Forde had very cleverly lulled Johnson into a false sense off security and with what appeared to be immediate regret his guest seemed to be saying he was in favour of spanking. Which was weird because I thought he was appearing to plug his own book rather than 50 Shades of Grey.

Not a bad start then for Forde. Good to see Andy Zaltzman and Phil Wang having some screentime too and nice to see Forde have some reasonably relaxed banter with his house band MP4, made up of MPs (slight bit of being economic with the truth there - one of them lost his seat in 2010, so it was really 3 MPs and an ex-MP). While the topical satire was lightweight at times our host showed potential for getting on-message politicians to go decidedly off-message. If he can keep that up with future guests - and if future big guns aren't scared off - he could be onto something.

Wednesdays at 10pm, Dave.

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