The digital revolution brought with it a multitude of new television channels, writes Paul Naylor. For most of us it just means more programmes to flick through until we find something tolerable, usually a repeat from the good old days of terrestrial TV.
Naturally, resources for newer, seemingly lesser channels, are somewhat limited - but you would think auntie Beeb could do better than this?
I am referring to the half hour I spent in front of the box last night watching BBC3’s lacklustre so-called comedy Bad Education.
There’s a long history of stand-up comedians making the transition to sit-com land. Quality examples include Dylan Moran and Bill Bailey in Channel 4s Black Books; Peter Kay in Phoenix Nights or Lee Mac and Tim Vine in the underrated Not Going Out. All credible moves.
Unfortunately, the 30 minutes of my life that I will never be able to retrieve from last night proves not all comedians can front such ventures.
‘Funnyman’ Jack Whitehall, the baby-faced comic with a posh voice, tries too hard and fails so spectacularly in making me raise as much as a smile.
His very presence brings out the Paul Calf in me. I imagine he would have been an irritating student, constantly asking if every shop or bar he entered took NUS, ordering a half a lager and sipping it all night as he marvelled at his own jokes.
Worse still, he’s now starring in a second – yes, second – series of Bad Education. Bad idea more like.
And just because the young toff can now (just about) grow a fluffy beard, bosses cast him as a teacher. Why?
Whitehall as Mr Wickers is unbearable enough as the crass educator at a fictional school.
However, his sad performance is nowhere near as disappointing as the monumental career crash experienced by Mathew Horne. The one-time-star of Gavin and Stacey, Horne must be ruing the day he parted ways with James Corden.
Mat, starring here as the over-enthusiastic Mr Fraser, looks to be physically wincing as he delivers each line. Keep taking the pay packet Mr Horne, there may be a few to go.
On the other hand, Whitehall seems to relish every scene. From ridiculous re-enactments of Second World War events, to skateboard stunts that wouldn’t trouble Lenny Henry’s version of Frank Spencer, nothing is funny.
Dabbing at the wound Wickers inflicted on some chubby kid sporting a bowl haircut – while at the same time resuscitating an owl he shot – is not funny.
I’m sure it all seemed hilarious in the production meetings, marker pens zipping across storyboards. In fact, that’s who I blame. I blame the production team.
Oh, hang on. I see. Apparently Mr Whitehall is the programme’s associate producer. That explains it.
Perhaps someone should man-up in these production meetings and explain to the ‘funnyman’ that in order to be funny you must first of all be doing something funny, in a funny way. Otherwise, you are simply unfunny.
Thankfully, Bad Education does have one saving grace in the form of brilliantly rubber-boned Glaswegian, Michelle Gomez.
As head teacher Miss Pickwell, Gomez sums Wickers up perfectly.
“Was your father a surgeon?,” she asks. “Because he took the brain of an ape and put it in to the head of a hairy little girl.”
Okay. Gomez’s performance is not a patch on her neurotic character from Channel 4s superb Green Wing, but it was welcome respite from everyone else in last night’s show.
As far as I am concerned, less is certainly more when it comes to Jack Whitehall. The less I see him, the more happy I feel.