More TV Memories – You Gotta Be Jokin’.

You Gotta Be Jokin’ (BBC1, 1991)

I am bending the rules again a little here, because usually I only like to feature shows if I can find at least one full edition on a tape or online, because I have found only about ten minutes’ worth of this one, and I was rather surprised that there was that much around, so as I do remember watching it first time round and I think that it has a story worth telling, it’s worth a review.

As I have said before, 1991 was a rather interesting year in TV comedy, perhaps even a crucial one. This is because it was just about the very last gasp of old-school variety, featuring some shows that could’ve been considered to be rather naff and cheesy, but were rather popular. This meant that Little And Large were finally pensioned off after over a decade, and it was also time to say goodbye to the long-running shows that starred Russ Abbot and Les Dennis, even if they were still doing fairly well in the ratings.

This meant that this show would be just about the last chance by BBC1 to establish a Saturday night sketch comedy show for all the family. You Gotta Be Jokin’ (no “g”) was a fast-moving show featuring a quintet of fairly new talent to TV as a wide range of characters. They were Maddi Cryer, Annette Law, George Marshall, Billy Pearce, and Shane Richie. vlcsnap-00333

Now the significance of this show for me is that it was the first time that I can remember seeing Shane. I thought that he was rather amusing (stop it, I was only seven years old at the time), and I have followed his TV career ever since. This wasn’t his TV debut though, he had already appeared on a few other shows including 3-2-1 in 1987, and the similar BBC1 sketch show Up To Something in 1990. vlcsnap-00335

Every show would begin with the cast coming on to the stage by sliding down a pole for some reason. There were a few regular characters including Richie as a lager lout, Law as the four-year-old Trudi, and Cryer as Madeline Leader The Dog Breeder (who also did some impressions of various singers). Marshall did some impressions too, with Sean Connery being his best-known one, and not to be outdone, Richie did a memorable one of Larry Grayson. The show would end with the cast all sat together as if they were on Copy Cats or something. vlcsnap-00435

There were only eight editions of You Gotta Be Jokin’ in one series, and it probably had no chance to return for a second because by 1992 this style of show had been just about outmoded, Saturday night TV would never be the same again. There has been no DVD release and the show has no Wikipedia entry either. Some of the cast did go on to further success though. vlcsnap-00340

Richie’s career grew very quickly, and less than a year later he hosted the “camcorder calamities” show Caught In The Act, before going on to CBBC’s Run The Risk, which led to many other things including EastEnders of course. Marshall went on to host daytime game show XYZ in 1993. I do remember it, but there are no clips of the show online. And Pearce went on to appear in lots of pantomimes.

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