It’s been three years since 10 O’Clock Live burst onto our screens with a blitz pre-publicity and the lofty, if achievable aim of becoming the UK equivalent of US comedy The Daily Show. Yet as the show returns for a third series to mixed reviews and lukewarm enthusiasm, it seems that Channel 4’s admirable foray into satire has failed to reach its full potential. However, all is not lost. Whilst 10OCL has spent its past two seasons limping its way across the television landscape, there has been the odd moment of unqualified genius (recall Charlie Brooker’s astonishing poem on The Sun and witch-hunts). And truly, we at The Spin Alley want 10OCL to succeed (because if someone decides that snarkily tearing strips off people isn’t entertaining then we’re all fucked). So, in a spirit friendliness, we propose our 4 ways to improve 10 O’Clock Live….
1.Ditch Lauren Laverne
As a wise man once said, the first cut is the deepest. And in this instance, it most certainly is. As anyone whose ever listened to her excellent 6 Music radio show will tell you, Lauren Laverne is a hugely talented broadcaster. She is unfailing intelligent, warm, and quite frankly I fancy the pants off of her.
But she is also utterly miscast here. She isn’t funny enough to add any entertainment, and she lacks the presence to add a sense order to the whole thing. Instead, she hangs around limplessly and without purpose, gamefully trying to carve a role for herself in a show and simply doesn’t need her.
“But we do NEED Laverne”, cries the TV producer. “We forgot to get anyone else who wasn’t a middle-class male comedian. Laverne is a WOMAN from the NORTH. This is DIVERSITY.” Well, that’s not fair on her or the audience, because there are lots funny women in media land (and lord knows why no one’s ever got around to putting world class sarcastronaut Marina Hyde on telly), but dear Auntie Lala isn’t one of them, and her removal would improve 10OCL no end.
2. Get rid of the ‘Live’ bit
Let’s be honest, there is absolutely no compelling reason why this show needs to be live. Yes, it’s all very well in theory, and I’m sure that broacasting it live was supposed to add a sense of 1990s style Saturday morning chaos and unpredictability to proceedings. But it hasn’t. All it’s done is lead to a show with a consistently inconsistent pace, dodgy transitions and more than a few fluffed punchlines.
The show’s creators like to claim that broadcasting it live enables it to respond to up-to-the minute current affairs, but that doesn’t wash when even sodding Question Time sees the wisdom of pre-recording to ensure that it is broadcast looking more like a television programme and less like the highlights of an open-mike comedy night inexplicably spliced with a couple of clips from Newsnight. Take heed Channel 4.
3. Be clevererer
Great Britain’s television watchers exist along a broad spectrum of intelligence, from slack-jawed lobotomised husks to the sort of people watch BBC 4 documentaries on sewage construction in nineteenth century Finland. 10 O’Clock Live needs to know its place be confident that its audience exists further towards the polysyllabic end of the spectrum.
Satire is largely about politics, which means anyone watching has already self-selected themselves being of at least some level of intelligence and/or interest in the world. 10OCL needs to remember this, and let guests debate serious, difficult concepts in a way that doesn’t patronise the audience or resort to a sixth-form college shouting match (the previous week’ss debate featuring rent-a-harpy Kate Hopkins screeching ‘THATCHER IS BRILLIANT” until Owen Jones cried was particularly tedious viewing).
4. Take a right turn
In its current incarnation, 10 O’Clock Live is painfully left-wing. This shouldn’t really be surprising with a show in which three-quarters of its presenters are paid columnists for the Guardian or the Observer, but it still makes for frustrating viewing. Instead or balanced, reasonable debate, the show all too often consists of contributors and guests lazily chucking liberal truisms into the ether whilst their well-trained clap enthusiastically like irritatingly well-coiffed seals (“Bankers?” “BOO!”. “Sustainability?” “YAY!”, “The EU?” “Erm, whataver David Mitchell said. YAY!).
Granted, there aren’t many right-wing comedians, but why let that stop you? Be creative and widen the net. TSA would rush back from the pub to get back in time for a weekly Nigel Farage travelogue. Imagine An Idiot Abroad, with Karl Pilkington replaced by your xenophobic granddad. Farage could even fly the plane himself. It would be BRILLIANT.
Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments or, failing that, just give Alex a load of abuse on Twitter at @adjwilson.
Alex is a writer and media professional who's based in South London and gets quite grumpy with anyone who says mean things about life south of the river. He once had a couple of pieces published by the Guardian, which he stills likes to mention when talking to attractive girls (with frustratingly limited success). He watches a reasonable amount of telly, goes to the theatre a lot, and spends far too much time on Twitter. His most notable journalistic achievement was breaking the news to Dick (from 'Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow') that Michael Jackson had died.