TV Review: Last Laugh In Vegas, ITV1

Michael Caine used to say that in his world you don't retire, the phone just stops ringing. Well it never seems to stop ringing for old celebrities being offered shows these days. If it isn't The Real Marigold Hotel it's Last Laugh In Vegas, this new series in which variety veterans get to do a big gig in Sin City.

The first of five (yes, five) episodes saw Cannon & Ball, Bobby Crush, Jess Conrad, Su Pollard, Kenny Lynch, Mick Miller, Anita Harris and Bernie Clifton acclimatising to their new location and their new upcoming gig. Egos soon started to rear their heads when it came to choosing the best hotel room. Ageing rock and roller Jess Conrad bagged the best suite and wasn't budging, immediately setting himself up as the bad guy, while 1970s pianist Bobby Crush drew the short straw.

It was soon time to meet their mentor. Frank Marino really ought to have a TV show of his own. No, scrub that. His hair really ought to have a TV show of its own. It was long, thick and unusually dark for a man of his age. Some people on social media wondered if it previously belonged to Michael Jackson. Without looking at him, however, he sounded to me like Bob Fossil from The Mighty Boosh.

Marino had some difficulties with his new group. He was particularly bemused by Bernie Clifton's ostrich, wondering what an American audience would make of that. Others had more marketable, transferable skills. Mick Miller, however, didn't take too kindly to the suggestion that he should have his hair cut. It was his trademark. He certainly seemed to have got plenty of mileage out of so little. An ancient clip showed him telling a joke about a man in a barbers - the barber says "you are going bald", the man says "get a move on then."

The clip was part of a montage of classic footage of the performers in their prime. Bobby Crush was moved to tears seeing his young self tinkling the ivories and thinking back to a time when behind the smiles he was struggling with his sexuality and couldn't come out. Others were more happy to see their younger versions. Kenny Lynch beamed at the shots of him as a youthful soul man. Lynch was one of the hits of this episode, foul-mouthed but funny, particularly when paired with Su Pollard at a drive-in and she was calling out the order ("She's talking to a fucking fuse box").

Real-life overtook the levity, however, when there was a mass shooting in the city while they were rehearsing. You don't get that at Leeds City Varieties. Of course, in the best traditions of their profession they all agreed that the show must go on. We shall see how these troupers get on next week... 

Last Laugh In Vegas, Tuesdays, ITV1, 9pm. 


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