Bob Monkhouse On The Spot (BBC1, 1995-1996)
Bob Monkhouse is someone who was definitely a great TV talent, but in the early-90s his career was at something of a low point. Bob had hosted various game shows including The $64,000 Question, Bob’s Your Uncle, and Celebrity Squares, and although he was as professional a host as always, this was hardly a stretch of his talents, and most people considered him at the time to merely be a smarmy game show host.
But then in 1994, Bob took the opportunity to remind viewers of his comic talent when he appeared as a panellist on BBC2’s Have I Got News For You, and he also had his own edition of ITV’s An Audience With. Viewers were very impressed with his quick-witted ability to tell jokes, something that some people might not have realised he was able to do, and he won over a new generation of fans.
His career was now back on the up, so someone thought that it might be a good idea to give Bob a new comedy show. Bob Monkhouse On The Spot launched on BBC1 in 1995, and it was usually shown fairly late on Saturday evenings. Bob would always take some time to get himself ready, and put his bowtie on, and then he would take to the stage. There were also plenty of amusing trails made to promote the show (there isn’t much online unfortunately, so I’ll use pictures from the An Audience With for now).
Bob would then perform his jokes, and the show was made fairly close to transmission, so there was plenty of chance to comment on what had been happening in the news. There would also be a musical guest. Bob was very keen to learn how jokes and comedy worked, he would often make notes about jokes or any ideas that he thought he could turn into something amusing, and he watched as many TV shows about comedy and entertainment as he could.
This meant that he had a few books that were packed with ideas, and these were famously stolen around the time of the show, although he they were eventually recovered. One highlight was a segment where Bob would ask the studio audience to suggest two subjects. He would then link these together by making a string of jokes, and this was impressive because he didn’t know what the subjects would be in advance, giving him the opportunity to show off his very quick recall. The show would then end with the closing theme being played while the credits ran, and Bob waved for about a minute, how showbiz.
There were two series of Bob Monkhouse On The Spot, and it’s a shame that there weren’t more as they were very entertaining. But with his well-earned reputation as a comedy great now restored, Bob went off to further success including hosting The National Lottery Live, and there have been several documentaries reflecting on his fascinating career. And in more recent years, the show was repeated on Gold, and they didn’t even take the trouble to edit out half of Bob’s now not-so-topical jokes!