The Jack Docherty Show (Channel 5, 1997-1999)
Here is my first review of a show that was on Channel 5, because would you believe they did actually try and make some proper entertainment programmes in their first five or six years on air, so here’s my memories of one.
The late night chat show has long been successful in America with the likes of Letterman, but although there have been a few attempts, the format has never done as well in this country. But when Channel 5 launched they decided that they needed one of these shows, so who would be picked as the host of this show?
It was the Scottish comedian Jack Docherty, probably best known at the time for being in the terrific Channel 4 sketch show Absolutely, although this may have partly been influenced by the fact that the show was made by Absolutely Productions. His show launched on Channel 5’s first day on air in March 1997, and would be the format of starting with a few jokes and sketches, interviewing some famous guests, and then finishing with a song. It was recorded at the Whitehall Theatre in London with a studio audience and at first ran for five days a week at around 11pm.
There were some decent guests on the show and some funny moments but the format began to tire fairly quickly. It was cut down to four nights a week, then three, and by the end it was only being shown only once a week. The studio band, title sequence and set design was often changed, and Jack was often away, with the show being renamed Not The Jack Docherty Show and the likes of Tim Vine and Melinda Messenger filling in for him and actually getting higher ratings.
One week a still fairly unknown Graham Norton filled in for Jack. Then at the 1997 British Comedy Awards Graham and Jack were both nominated in the same category for hosting the show. To his surprise Graham actually won the award. It seems that somebody liked him because not long after Channel 4 gave him his own show So Graham Norton, and he is now on BBC1 and still very popular. It seems strange that Graham got more out of the show than Jack did but he insisted that he isn’t bitter.
Even Jack seemed fed up with the show by the end, but I do actually remember watching the last episode where there was a good moment when he said “please welcome my final guest… me” and then with a split-screen technique Jack spoke to his duplicated self about his favourite moments on the show, there weren’t many.
Although the show wasn’t a big success and he didn’t become a star Jack is still around and he has written and starred in some good radio and TV comedies in more recent years, and at least Channel 5 did have a go at doing this style of show even though it’s not remembered much now.