TV: Britain Today Tonight, C4

Compared to the way some new comedy programmes are endlessly trailed Britain Today Tonight seems to have flown in under the radar. It sounds like an interesting concept though. A homegrown spoof American news show reporting on contemporary life in the UK fronted by man of a thousand prosthetic faces, Kayvan Novak.

Yet while there is no doubt that Novak is a hugely talented comedian as well as a master of disguise this does not really break any new ground. There are pranks involving the public that echo Novak’s previous shows Fonejacker and Facejacker combined with an over the top, slightly knowing, absurdist tone that has more than an echo of The Day about them. 

And Novak’s prosthetic disguises don’t always seem to be entirely convincing. Main anchor Douglas “Digger” Daley looks like a recovering burns victim while intrepid reporter, former action hero Jon Donovan, who is investigating terrorism in shopping centres, resembles Peter Andre on steroids with the eyelids of Steven Seagal. Are the cheerful security guards really taken in? Having said that there is a genuinely funny moment when Donovan cranks up the tension over an unidentified van at the gates only for the chilled out employees to explain that it is delivering to Asda.

In fact I almost take back what I said at the start. There are actually a few nice moments, such as a painfully awkward interview with a woman about pay equality in which a bogus male porn star claims to have to do all the work in his job. And, best of all, there is a surprisingly sweet stitch up when a fake member of the secret service recruits some refreshingly polite yoofs to explain text messages to him. He thinks that aubergine emojis and booty calls are hidden instructions for bombing campaigns and that LMFAO is a Chinese agent. 

Maybe if you’ve never seen The Day Today this might be fun, but mostly it feels as if Novak has simply applied his skills as a mimic to an old format. Whereas Facejacker and Fonejacker seemed to be doing something playfully audacious, Britain Today Tonight feels more like TV taking a step backwards – a bit like Britain itself.

Britain Today Tonight, Fridays from May 5, 10pm, C4.

Hello! Thanks for reading all the way down. I wish I could give you a prize. But BTJ needs your support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.