TV: Harry Hill's Tea Time, Sky One

For those of you that miss TV Burp you are going to have to make sure you have Sky. Harry’s Hill’s new series is definitely not a TV Burp clone, but to this fan who mourned the passing of his ITV1 clipfest it does feel like the nearest thing you’ll see in both spirit and execution. And judging by the first episode it could evolve to be just as funny.

The concept here is that Hill is presenting a celebrity cookery programme, but that is simply a very loose peg on which to hang his trademark madcappery. As luck would have it a real cook, man of the moment Paul Hollywood, is the first guest to sportingly put up with Hill’s light-hearted and sometimes downright bizarre joshing. 

The cooking ideas are definitely of the don't try this at home variety. There is a Greek theme this week which means, for example, that Hill and Hollywood have to carve George Michael’s face onto a kebab. That’s right. If you are going to be politically correct, you could pull the show apart – there is lots of plate smashing and Stavros Flatley pops up too – but it is all done in a playful, surreal spirit. I don’t think Hill has a mean bone in his body.

And for those missing the well-chosen TV clips from the Burp days there is some lovely early footage of a non-silver fox Hollywood with his former flatmate, fellow TV chef James Martin. Hill seems to have uncovered a previously unnoticed homoerotic subtext to their banter. 

There is good support from Charlie Baker too as Hill’s sidekick (Quasi)Modo reprising the role he played in Hill’s shortlived X Factor musical. I initially thought it was Kevin Eldon, but that was probably just because Eldon seems to have cornered the market in showstealing supporting players these days. Hill does seem good at spotting new talent too. Natasha Demetriou also pops up and I noticed John Kearns – who worked with Hill on Stars in their Eyes – in the credits as well.

It’ll be interesting to see how this does in the ratings - like TV Burp it has an early evening slot so it may partly be aimed at kids. An additional late night repeat might be an idea, though there is always catch-up these days for grown-ups. I wonder what kids will make of Hill disappearing into Hollywood’s eyes at one point and becoming an animation. It’s a truly weird hallucinogenic moment. Or maybe that should be Hillucinogenic.

Anyway, will this be a hit? There is only way to find out...Watch it.   

Harry Hill's Tea Time, Sky One, Sundays from October 16, 5pm. 


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