TV Review: The Mash Report, BBC2

So is it third time lucky then? After The Nightly Show and Host The Week could TV 2017 crack the seemingly simple concept of a topical show? The Mash Report is slightly different from those other two examples, which were part-chat and part-impro respectively. The role model here was probably The Daily Show with a bit of John Oliver for good measure. Pretty ambitious and, so far, flawed but pretty good.

Nish Kumar is the desk-based anchor who linked the other - what's the technical jargon? – bits. His shouty voice is his schtick but maybe he needs to dial it down a bit. Then again he did have an opening gag that said who cares if the news was true or fake as long as you said it loud enough, so maybe the volume was part of the gag.

There were plenty of laughs here that didn't need to be turned up to eleven, though. Describing Boris Johnson as a "1970s cartoon dog", having a pop at the dullards on Love Island or interviewing Ann Widdecombe about the idea that Donald Trump might be the messiah saw easy targets tackled wittily.

The only real problem was tone, which may have foxed some people. This was not straight Now Show-style satire but nor was it as consistently offbeat as The Day Today. Ellie Taylor and Steve N Allen played fake, fictional newsreaders, but on the other hand Rachel Parris was introduced as Rachel for her very good straight to camera piece about (faked) Tweets the show had received and Andrew Hunter Murray was sort-of himself in the Messiah sequence. More obvious but entertaining skits also featured Tom Bell, Marek Larwood and Jason Forbes.

And things got even more complicated when Geoff Norcott was introduced as a Tory-voting stand-up comedian. Viewers who didn't know that Norcott was for real might have thought he was a Pub Landlord-type comic character when he started talking about a Logan's Run cut-off point for OAPs to keep NHS costs down. I presume that was a joke though.

There was also, inevitably, the unavoidable problem of doing a joke about a relatively recent subject that had just been done to death on social media. Their quip about David Davis turning up to a Brexit meeting without any paper echoed similar Tweets but their Dr Who gag was a good one that I hadn't come across yet so I won't spoil it here.

So, where does that leave The Nish Report, sorry, The Mash Report? Well, it'll certainly run longer than Host The Week, but then that was axed after one outing. And it deserves to do better than The Nightly Show. I'll certainly keep watching, but I expect they will need ratings of more than just me to be a hit.

The Mash Report, BBC2, Thursdays, 10pm. Watch episode one here.

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