TV Review: Hypothetical, Dave

hypothetical review

Dave has a great track record at coming up with off-the-wall comedy shows, from Dave Gorman's Modern Life Is Goodish to, inevitably, Taskmaster (which is going to be mentioned a lot in this piece). Hypothetical is an interesting hybrid. It's as formulaic as any BBC panel show – and features a lot of the same people – but at the same time it comes to the chummy game show template from a distinctly sideways angle.

This is mainly because as well as featuring Josh Widdicombe as the host they've got the utterly brilliant James Acaster as his sidekick, a lanky, loopy Alex Horne to Josh's relatively pocket-sized, relatively sensible Greg Davies. Acaster's role, he explains, is to deal with quibbles and queries, and, most importantly, randomly dole out points. The scoring system here makes Mornington Crescent seem perfectly logical.

In each round the panellists have to come up with answers that are as silly and absurd as the questions, which include what would you do on a very cheap date? and who can come up with the best cult? Hypothetical was devised by Widdicombe, Matthew Crosby and Tom Craine, but, once again, some of the questions do feel as if they could have also been Taskmaster challenges, except that here they are just discussed, not actually acted out. Which is a shame because I'd love to see Tom Allen or Liza Tarbuck trying to get a lift from a member of the royal family rather than just chat about how they might do it – I presume this was filmed before Prince Phil had his prang.

And the panel is certainly up for a bit of fun. In the first episode the questions are answered by Rob Beckett, Jessica Knappett and the aforementioned Tarbuck and Allen. All of them give it their best shot and there is some excellent comedy bantz between Beckett and Allen who, astonishingly attended the same school. And no, it wasn't Eton and Beckett was not the caretaker.

Dave does tend to stretch thirty minute programmes into a one hour slot, but they've pulled that off here with the help of some jolly filmed inserts. James Acaster goes on a trip to the seaside with Josh Widdicombe's former teacher (who actually looks younger than Widdicombe) and there is much fun to had watching Derek Acorah being a good sport.

At times this does seem like a group of comedy pals simply mucking about, but this is one of those occasions where the mucking about is well worth watching. Acaster in particular is very much at the top of his game at the moment so anything he is in will have me pressing my nose to the screen. I doubt if it'll be long before he is fronting his own ridiculous panel show.

Watch Hypothetical on Dave, 10pm, Wednesdays from February 6.

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