Opinion: The John Bishop Show – Primetime Comedy Digs Deep

John Bishop Show

When The John Bishop Show started seven weeks ago I wrote an opinion piece about how impressed I was that it had found some new talent for mainstream TV. The first episode featured Felicity Ward and James Acaster and was a pretty impressive statement of intent

Since then the show had come in for some stick on social media. Someone complained to me about the old school Tiller Girls kicking their exposed legs in the air. Others were not too impressed by Lee Nelson, who is hardly new talent having had his own BBC show already.

And Andrew Lawrence chipped in to the debate by suggesting that comedians who were not necessarily good enough to make a living on the circuit were being edited to look better than maybe they actually are. Erm, it’s a light entertainment show not a hard-hitting report on the state of stand-up, what do you want them to do, edit them so that they look bad? 

Overall though the series has been consistently strong, being a great showcase for newer or less-exposed acts such as Phil Wang, Zoe Lyons, Luisa Omielan and Alex Edelman. Tonight’s show features Jamali Maddix, who is so new I’ve never seen him. Doc Brown and Seann Walsh are also on the bill. I wonder if Andrew Lawrence will be iPlayering this one. I know Walsh is well-established, but the programme has to make some concessions to the mainstream given its timeslot. You could call Walsh the comedy equivalent of the Tiller Girls.  

During the series John Bishop has constantly referred to the fact that he has seen the acts and has been involved in booking them. This sounded like showbiz bullshit to me but it isn’t. I’ve made some proper journalistic enquiries and while acts go through an audition process where they might initially be seen by other members of the team, by the time the line-up is whittled down Bishop does give them the thumbs up or down. So if Andrew Lawrence does want to complain again he should be critical of John Bishop, not at any BBC diversity policy, positive discrimination or political correctness gone bonkers. 

The John Bishop Show,  Saturdays, BBC1, 9.45pm.


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