The BBC has recently finished airing a new sketch show series titled: “Watson and Oliver”. Some people have knocked this show in it recent run for its old fashioned style, while others claimed it was a break out successes to rival ‘Miranda’.
Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver are an interesting duo. In a break from the normal double act formula of pairing opposites; both Watson and Oliver are rather attractive and both show talent as character actresses.
The format of the show is simple: Studio Intro, Studio Sketches, Special guest, Filmed Sketch, Final song. In could have be directly lifted from a Morcambe and Wise show.
The Watson and Oliver sketches that work best are the simple ones where they can show off their acting skills. Like the one above. Or the greasy spoon sketch below, which must have been almost impossible to memorise:
The duo also play a pair of slow talking school girls which are very well observed. And its refreshing to see “the youth of today” being portrayed as something other than yobs. Sadly I can not find a clip of that sketch to share.
Although there are things to like about Watson and Oliver, I do find myself skipping through the episodes on iPlayer. A lot of sketches are too long. Others, like the prison sketches, just don’t seem to have a lot of drive. But their show seems to really fall down when they play themselves. While I have no doubt that they are good friends in real life, they have little chemistry in the sketches that top and tail the show. Watson plays a dim character that somehow always undercuts Oliver’s smart-alec character to the studio audiences constant uproarious surprise. Its a little too broad, wooden and lacks spontaneity.
The biggest problem I think is Watson and Oliver’s personas don’t quite click. It’s like they’ve borrowed them from Laurel and Hardy and it doesn’t fully fit them. In fact a lot of what they do feels derivative of other performers. French and Saunders being the most of obvious and I can see shades of Sue Perkins in there too. While some of the skits can be a pretty good, ultimately it feels like they haven’t found their voices yet.
I hope Watson and Oliver get a 2nd series so they can work on this show, as far too many shows get axed after their first series these days. After all it took Morecambe and Wise at least a series to find their voices too. In fact, I believe after viewing their first ever series one critic said:”Definition of the week: TV set – the box in which they buried Morecambe and Wise.” and they went on to become Britain’s best loved comedians. I’m pretty sure Watson and Oliver wont reach the dizzy heights of Morecambe and Wise, but it would be wrong not to let them try again.