Monkey Trousers (ITV1, 2005)
Following on from the similar The All-Star Comedy Show of which a couple of editions were shown on ITV1 a year earlier, Monkey Trousers was a comedy sketch show featuring a wide variety of comic talent taking part in some rather daft sketches. Most of the show was written by Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and their unusual comedy style definitely came through.
Among the cast and the regular characters were Alistair McGowan as a 1950s footballer, Steve Coogan as a creepy toy shop owner, Neil Morrissey as a shouting policeman, Matt Berry as a burping antiques expert, and John Thomson as a foul-mouthed chef. Reeves and Mortimer also took part in sketches themselves, with Mortimer playing a fearless wildlife expert who liked to wrestle with crocodiles, and a clueless estate agent. Reeves played a crazy vicar, and also the silliest character in the series who gave the show its title, someone who liked to run around and shout “monkey trousers!”, because monkeys are funny, right?
Also taking part in the show were many others including Angus Deayton, Rebecca Front, Tim Healy, Mackenzie Crook, Griff Rhys Jones, Ronni Ancona, and Rhys Thomas. So that’s a comedy show featuring some of my favourite comedy talent taking part in some unusual sketches in a sort-of combination of such popular 90s comedy shows as The Smell Of Reeves And Mortimer and The Fast Show. How could it possibly fail?
Well, it did, and there are some reasons for this. When Monkey Trousers was shown on ITV1 in 2005, they were going through a habit of moving shows to a later slot or not completing the run of a show, and despite commissioning a full series unfortunately they lost confidence in this show too. The final edition wasn’t even shown presumably because of low ratings, it didn’t return for another series, and this show like many others during this time became another comedy flop which is very disappointing.
Monkey Trousers has been released on DVD though and it features some extras including interviews with Bob Mortimer and Steve Coogan (whose production companies made the show), there are also some outtakes and deleted sketches along with the unaired edition. Maybe if it had been shown on BBC2 or Channel 4 Monkey Trousers could have been a bigger success because it wasn’t that bad, but it’s a shame that so much talent resulted in such little success.