TV Review: Tim Vine Travels In Time, BBC1

You can always bank on Tim Vine when you want something light and fluffy and fun and he has certainly done that with Tim Vine Travels In Time, the first sitcom in a new series of Comedy Playhouse pilots.

The punmeister general plays the owner of an antique shop who has the ability to travel back in time by adjusting the hands on his grandfather clock. Luckily he is heading back to 1205 to replace a broken arrow for Strictly Come Dancing Champion Ore Oduba. As Vine points out while moving the minute hand, getting to 1066 might be a bit more complicated. Imagine Mr Benn meets Dr Who with visual gags a go-go.

The subsequent plot is more Horrible Histories than Blackadder as Vine and a strong supporting cast play fast and loose with historical accuracy but are always on target when it comes to cheesy laugh-out-loud gags. “A joke about a door. There was a lot hingeing on that.” I expect you can get the idea.

If the plot sounds familiar that’s because there has already been a radio version of this, but the rebooted cast here certainly brings Vine’s relentless silliness to life. Sally Phillips is never less than brilliant as the divinely stupid Maid Marian (it's 'Marion' here – I kept expecting a pun based on the unusual spelling) and Ore Oduba doubles up playing Robin Hood as well as himself.

The Merry Men are played by comedy troupers Marek Larwood, John Archer and Spencer Jones (Jones is going to have to watch out that he isn’t typecast, having also donned historical garb for Upstart Crow). Oh and it took a while but I eventually realised that The Sheriff of Nottingham was played by Tim Key, hamming it up big-style in black wig and beard while skillfully avoiding any Alan Rickman comparisons.

So yes this is totally stupid. Vine makes an early bid for “New Bruce Forsyth” status with his withering looks to the camera and I presume the darts showdown, complete with commentator Tony Green, is a nod to his genuine skill on the oche - he won Let’s Play Darts For Comic Relief in 2016.  

Only one thing puzzles me about this programme. Why is it going out at 10.35pm? It really feels like a family-friendly primetime show, if not a CBBC one. Hopefully it will get a series which will be better scheduled 

Tim Vine Travels In Time. Catch up here. 

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