10 O'Clock Live: Really Not That Bad

The reviews suggest it's almost as bad as The Girlie Show, but Channel 4's live satirical offering is far from utterly awful
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The reviews for Channel 4's 10 O'Clock Live have been pretty rough. Actually, they've been savage. Like so many things about the modern world (body piercing, all this 'yeah yeah yeah' music), this seems a little odd to me. For having watched every edition of the show to date, I'm of the opinion that it's, you know, fine - perfectly acceptable Thursday night television.

"But it's not as good as The Daily Show!" belm its detractors. And, no, it isn't. Those who throws bouquets at Jon Stewart and friends seem to have forgotten that the early incarnation of The Daily Show, you know, back when it was hosted by Craig Kilborn, was a very up-and-down affair. Even the first couple of seasons with Stewart at the desk were as much 'miss' as 'hit'. The thing is, it took a while for The Daily Show to evolve into an Emmy-winning satirical colossus. 10 O'Clock Live, on the other hand, is just over halfway through its first season. To write it off now would be a bit like saying the evolutionary process itself is rubbish - which it isn't, Christians, it really isn't.

So what of the show as it currently stands? Well, I'm not the biggest of Jimmy Carr fans, and few of his contributions have suggested that state of affairs will alter any time soon. And while the criticism of Lauren Laverne has often been outrageous, she doesn't seem as at home here as she has on other programmes. But, hey, like I said, it's early days. Who's to say that both won't blossom into Swiftian wits able to bring down governments with the occasional bon mot? And if that doesn't occur, maybe they'll be replaced by people more suited to this sort of show. Either way, as things are at the moment, they still serve important functions with Laverne preventing 10 O'Clock Live from becoming a complete sausage-fest and Carr opening the show up to viewers for whom there's already quite enough political programming on a Thursday evening, thank you very much.

As for Charlie Brooker, those naysayers who claim he's just now starting to phone it in couldn't be more wide of the mark. Charlie Brooker's been phoning it in for a good 18 months

As for Charlie Brooker, those naysayers who claim he's just now starting to phone it in couldn't be more wide of the mark. Charlie Brooker's been phoning it in for a good 18 months. Of course, even with his foot off the accelerator, he’s still preferable to his umpteen impersonators. These people, who prowl cyberspace like thesaurus-wielding Droogs, seem to think Brooker's style hinges upon frequent used of the c-word and regular allusions to wanking, while what actually makes - or rather, made him - so effective were his understanding that the best jokes are often at one's own expense and that negative criticism is only entertaining when you're able to talk with the same passion about the things you love. Oh yes, and if Brooker has lost ready and direct access to his bile duct, he still has brilliance within his grasp, as this excerpt from the often excellent Newswipe demonstrates.

And the there's David Mitchell. In danger of becoming so overexposed he'll leave Lindsay Lohan looking like Greta Garbo, the Peep Show star has proved himself to be an okay interviewer, a decent debate host and an astute columnist. Which just isn't enough for some audience members, who wanted to see him set about Alastair Campbell with a blowtorch and a sexed-up dossier drenched in lighter fluid. The very idea that Mitchell could nail down so slippery a customer is absurd, what with Campbell having eluded press capture throughout his decade-spanning reign of terror. And even if he had fallen apart under questioning, the moment would have been robbed of his poignancy since La Grand Ginge no longer has access to power. None of which is to suggest that going after Alistair Campbell isn't a worthwhile endeavour - it's just one that should be undertaken by the sort of mob you encounter at the end of Frankenstein films.

Speaking of mobs, 10 O'Clock Live's biggest fall down point is the clap-heavy studio audience. Much as I might admire their energy, their presence - or rather, their cacophony - gives the show a smugness that's inevitable whenever 70 or more Guardian readers are gathered together. This is particular unfortunate since the show is at its best when it pooh-poohs self-satisfied liberalism. 10 O'Clock Live would be a truly appalling programme if it mimicked the demeanour of that terrible woman from War On Want who appeared on last night's show (hmmm, never thought I'd type those words - 'that terrible woman from War On Want' - but it's too late now!). Glib, unwilling to listen to opposing views and not as funny as she thinks she is - that would make for the worst possible sort of satirical programming.

But 10 O'Clock Live isn't like that. No, it's really not that bad. And when held up against the horror show that is the Channel 4 schedule, it all but looks like The Ascent Of Man.

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