Watson And Oliver (BBC2, 2012-2013)
As I am always on the lookout for new comedy shows, so I thought that I would give this one a try. This was a comedy sketch show that featured a female double-act, who I must admit I didn’t know much about at the time, but Lorna Watson and Ingrid Oliver (presumably no relation to J Edward) had already worked together for several years, including performing on stage together, and appearing in various comedy shows, when seemingly someone thought that they were worthy of a show of their own.
In the publicity before the launch of the first series, rather predictably there was some debate wondering if they were going to be “the new French and Saunders”. I felt this was rather frustrating for two reasons, firstly because it’s a rather lazy comparison to make, and secondly because it stops them from having a chance to develop their own style.
Watson And Oliver was a show where the sketches featured a small amount of recurring characters and there wasn’t an overreliance on catchphrases, but there were a few parodies of various things, such as TV shows, and there were also a few additional cast members to help them out, along with some guest appearances, adding to the general air of silliness. They were also among the writers.
To give an example, one sketch that I particularly remember was when they played two women who worked in an office, but their fingernails were too long for them to be able to do anything properly. Looking back now, I noticed that one of them had bright yellow nails, just like that strange singer woman from 1986… no, I mustn’t start going on about her again…
The response to the first series from critics was not that much of a surprise really, with some saying that although they clearly had some comedy talent, the quality of some of the sketches wasn’t that great really. Also, Watson And Oliver was first shown at 10pm, but then repeated not long after in an earlier timeslot, making it seem like BBC2 weren’t really sure of what type of audience they wanted to aim this at. The ratings dropped off too.
Despite all of this, there was a second and final series, which did feature more of the same. I don’t really recall seeing them on TV much after this though, and I don’t think that there ever was a DVD release, maybe they weren’t going to be the next big thing then. As far as female comedy talent goes, although they might remain behind French and Saunders, I would put them ahead of Catherine Tate, whose show contained some of the most irritating comedy characters that I have ever seen.