TV Burp vs Harry Hill: FIGHT!

With reports circulating that Harry Hill has turned his back on TV Burp, we pay tribute to the only good programme ever shown on ITV1.
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With reports circulating that Harry Hill has turned his back on TV Burp, we pay tribute to the only good programme ever shown on ITV1.

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TV Burp could/should/might be looking at a future without Harry Hill. TV Burp could/should/might be looking at an endgame itself. Right now, Justin Lee Collins will be practicing his sideways glances to camera. Soap stars will be wondering if the angle poise may finally shift from their gormless faces and many will be wondering if they will ever watch anything on ITV1 again.

After nine years hosting TV Burp it has been reported that HH has had enough. Putting money and the interests of the channel, advertisers and team to one side, you would maybe think that it is probably time. For Hill. Not the show. Without Hill, the show seems as weak as Kurt Cobain’s Tamogotchi. Alan Carr? Justin Lee Collins? Graham Norton? It would be like wearing a dead man’s brothel creepers. The host would have to adapt to a formula that only really suits Hill.

Should Hill leave? Probably. If he wants to nurture his own comedy then it might finally be time to leave the pie-and-chips-on-laps brigade and face the cliffhanging synthetic drum roll of Albert Square. Or maybe there’s plumper baps on the table at Sky but please don’t let Simon Cowell secure his services for an X Factor Musical. That really is crawling into the top pocket of the cloven one. Whatever the outcome, it’s an enviable position to be in.

TV Burp is a beautiful show. Reinterpreting TV for a primetime audience that earnestly watches these shows sounds like a tricky pitch. Establishing a tone that is as affectionate as it is saucy, is also a difficult ask. Can you rip the piss out of Ian Beale’s moustache whilst still keeping Beale’s public onside? Well, of course you can, and they have.

Without Hill, the show seems as weak as Kurt Cobain’s Tamogotchi.

TV Burp works very much like a magazine. The material is giving to you, the world is already constructed, but you need an eye, and an ear for the comedy, and that’s where the real genius lies: in the writing. Perfectly clipped headline announcements, surreal re-imaginings of everyday soap or fly-on-the-wall docs, TV Burp is a masterclass in observation and twist; and for many its marinated chunks of primetime TV are the only encounters they have with the Dingles, Barlows and Eddie Stobarts. TV Burp both reinforces and supplements the diets of the masses whilst providing a guilty peak behind the beaded curtain of The Cabin for the abstainers.

TV Burp has also successfully sold surrealism to a tea-time audience on ITV, a feat even The Goodies found tough going when they transferred from the Beeb at a time when everything seemed druggy and psychedelic. Vic Reeves’ Monkey Trousers didn’t really work on the channel (in a much later slot) either. TV Burp however, features pre-ad-break FIGHTS between sharks and Hitlers, a bewitching subplot of a charity shop knitted mouse character’s rise to fame and constant in-jokes and hammed-up presentation. It’s worth noting again, that this does seem on paper to be a tall order. Harry Hill as Blanche Hunt? Maybe later-in-the-schedule? After a few brandies?

Hill was not exactly an obvious filter through which to regurgitate mass-market junk either. Hill was considered by many as a slightly easier-to-get crusts-cut-off Vic Reeves, but leftfield nonetheless. He rode his tiny hooves through the student heartland for years, a place that many of TV Burp’s audience would gladly bomb to bits. Yet, it worked, and unlike the mutton-headed, genderless Michael McIntyre who has torched his original audience in a bid to become as ubiquitous as his pie-dish hair, Hill has managed to enhance his appeal in both directions. So, whatever the outcome of this current situation, Sir, it’s been a pleasure. *sideways glance to camera*

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