More TV Memories – Only Joking.

Only Joking (ITV, 1992)

This is yet another show that I watched many years ago now, and there isn’t really a huge amount about this online. Was Only Joking a comedy game show, a variety show, or a complete mess? Well it was probably all of these really. But the reason that this is significant is because this was the first time that I remember seeing Bradley Walsh.

He had appeared on TV before this though, including doing his comedy routine on shows like Des O’Connor Tonight and Cannon And Ball’s Casino, and as early as 1989 he hosted the ITV game show You Must Be Joking, which also featured Shane Richie and his mullet as one of the regular panellists (and this isn’t to be confused with his later BBC1 comedy sketch show You Gotta Be Jokin’). The idea of Only Joking, if you really want to know, was that people from across the country were encouraged to tell some funny jokes. And joke-telling families also competed against the clock.

I think there was some sort of trophy for the funniest. One of the resident comedians was Dave Lee. Now I do have a vague memory that a long time ago my sister was in the audience for one of those live variety shows from The Palladium or some such place, and he was on the bill, and afterwards, he gave her his autograph, how nice. There was also an outtake that appeared on a lot of shows, where a boy said something rude and Bradley’s eyes nearly popped out of his head.

One problem with Only Joking though was that, similar to the You’ve Been Framed!/Caught In The Act situation that happened earlier in the year, there was a show on BBC1 called Joker In The Pack around the same that had an almost identical idea. And there was only one series, which I think was shown in a Saturday early evening slot. But t seems that after a few editions, some ITV regions moved this to a timeslot that even Get Stuffed!! would’ve found embarrassing.

I don’t remember LWT doing this though, and one critic later described this as “comfortably the worst thing LWT have ever made”. One positive though is that I have followed Bradley’s career ever since. This includes appearances on Celebrity Squares where he laughed a lot (what a surprise), and he also teamed up with Joe Pasquale for a one-off comedy special that I was looking forward to, but this was delayed because of World Cup coverage, and I don’t think I ever saw this. He has also done plenty of other acclaimed TV hosting and acting work. Who knows, one day, he might be as big as Billy Pearce.


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