NOTE: Where there is a mention of a show or person in bold and block capitals, it will be linked to a relevant clip, so you, the reader, are provided with some context. I couldn't embed them all here, otherwise it would be a million miles long. That said, I can't guaruntee the worldwide availablility of the clips. Some may end up being only viewable int he UK. Get Spotflux or something, clips will obviously possibly contain strong language and such.
No. I'm not having it. Sunday night was not meant to be this way. I sat down ready to watch the "Nominations Show" for the British Comedy Awards 2012, which takes place on December 12th. I was sitting there all pumped up and ready to decry to Twitter how all the categories were filled with garbage and how nominees I could pull out of my ass would be better picks than the drivel presented. And trust me, there were a number of stand up comics that I follow on Twitter ready to do the name thing.
Then, just moments before the show started, the comedy news website CHORTLE, published the list of nominees, and just as the show was beginning, I read the list (hey, I read Smackdown spoilers too, I'm not a patient man), and as I read the list, one thing kept coming into my head.... "That's a strong category". ""Good nominees there...". Then I realised I had hit the end of the list.
This nominations list was brilliant! There were only 2 nominations in the entire list I had an issue with, and one of them was based on a technicality and not because the show wasn't great, which it was.
It also spawned the creation of the British Comedy Academy in 2010, a collective of almost 3000 performers, writers, producers and agents, who together come up with new initiatives to support and promote British comedy fromt he ground up, It's also a body that drives the voting process. Currently, all but one of the Awards on the night will be voted on by them. The only public telephone voting is for the "King/Queen Of Comedy".
That is not to say there isn't anything to criticise the British Comedy Awards over. Indeed, there is a fair amount. Firstly, it's purview these days is entirely based on television comedy. It's last non-TV comedy categories appeared in 2009, and even then, it was a single, rather tokenistic, "Live Stand Up Performer" award and "Comedy Film".
Indeed, Not only do the British Comedy Awards not actually cover the whole spectrum of comedy, but year-to-year they cannot seem to keep a stable list of categories. There are set to be only 14 awards handed out this year, which includes a couple of "Lifetime achievement" awrds. But there have been years where you've had Comedy Drama, Panel Show (indeed, those two appeared in last year's awards but are omitted this year), Film, Writing and even recognising the best of International Comedy. Back in the 90's there were Awards for radio comedy, a genre still very prevelent in the UK in 2012, as well as being even as specific as having channel-based awards such as "Best BBC/ITV/C4 Sitcom". The 14 awards due to be handed out in 2012 is the fewest since the awards began.
Now obviously, I recognise that you can't have awards for every single aspect of comedy of the ceremonry would take three days. But there should be more of a happy medium where there's a broader church represented and we don't necessarily end up with people who aren't technically comedy people up for awards to the detriment of those who make comedy their daily living.
I mean, looking at the revived Comedy Awards you have in the US now. That show is more representative of comedy in all, covering both film, TV and live comedy. And indeed, podcast, app, and viral comtent. It's maybe too into the minutae (I wouldn't have awards for film, film directing, film writing and film peroforming and animated film.), but it's more where I'd lean if I were in charge.
I would have, as my British Comedy Awards categories:
Best Comedy Entertainment Programme (i.e. Shows that aren't sitcoms or sketch-based shows)
Best Comedy Entertainment Personality
Best Sketch Show
Best Panel Show (Some that we, in Britain, have a strong heritage in)
Best TV Comedy Actor
Best TV Comedy Actress
Best Male TV Comedy Perfomer (Someone who isn't acting, but appears in a comedy show)
Best Female TV Comedy Performer
Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist
Best New Comedy Show
Best Comedy Film
Best Comedy Film Performance
Best Comedy DVD Release (We don't air "Comedy Specials" in the UK in the same wayas the US, we have a glut of DVD releases in the Xmas-shopping period)
Best Live Comedy Performer
Best Radio Comedy
Best Internet Comedy (Covering podcasts or regular viral output)
And then the 2 "Lifetime Achievement" awards that are handed out. And every single category could be ridgidly British if you wanted
That said, let's take a look at the awesomely-strong nominations for this year as I give my thoguhts and picks: Best New Comedy Programme
As I mentioned earlier, there are 2 singular nominations here that I didnd't like. This category has one of them, the one, as mentioned I don't like based on a tchnicality. That nomination is for ALAN PARTIRIDGE: WELCOME TO THE PLACES IN MY LIFE. A VERY funny show, but Alan Partridge is an old creation of Steve Coogan's and has had a number of shows with that charcater before Indeed, Coogan has won 4 awards for playing the charafcter. However, it was stated that due to the fact that this show was on a different channel to Coogan's previous Partridge output, that qualified it for the New Comedy Programme category.
The other nominations are sketch show CARDINAL BURNS, period comedy HUNDERBY and sitcom MOONE BOY the semi-autobiographical creation of Chris O'Dowd (the guy from Bridesmaids). All four shows in this category are actually brilliant, personally, I wouldn't mind seeing any one of them taking the win. I would probably give it to Hunderby, however, mostly because this show scooped the fewest nominations of the four overall.
Best Comedy Entertainment Programme
This category actually contains the other nomination I dislike, and this time, it's on the grounds that the show itself is a risible piece of shit that should never have made it past comissioning, and that it's creator is the biggest charlatan in the world who has somehow managed to achieve success in the field of comedy without a single funny joke to his name. The show, in this case is Celebrity Juice, a panel show that deals with Showboz. It's just truly, truly horrible hosted by a crappy comedian in a character called Keith Lemon, who is so utterly odious, I don't know how anyone can watch it. This is one that will be hitting my "Aaron Hates TV" articles at some point soon.
Elsewhere in this category are chat shows ALAN CARR: CHATTY MAN and THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW as well as Television spoof show HARRY HILL'S TV BURP. It will probably win again, mostly as a goodbye, because it looks very unlikely that TV Burp will return, at least to ITV, if at all. And it's pretty the only Comedy output across ITV's four channels that is worth a damn. Not only that, but Hill has form here, as he has been nominated this category for, now, the last SEVEN years, winning three times. Indeed, Hill has also been noiminated for the last 7 in the "Best Enetainment Personality" and "Best Male TV Comic" for those seven years too.
Best TV Comedy Actor
Steve Coogan is again nominated here for his portrayal of Alan Partidge in "Alan Partidge: Welcome To Places In My Life". Also in this category is TOM HOLLANDER for his role as Reverend Adam Smallbone in "Rev", HUGH BONNEVILLE for playing "Ian" in spoof-Olympics organising committee sitcom Twenty Twelve and finally PETER CAPALDI for his role of Malcolm Tucker in political sitcom "The Thick Of It".
I would absolutely give it to Capaldi here. Not just because Malcolm Tucker is now an iconic sitcom character thanks to him, as his perofmrance is a tour de force, but also the show is also coming to an end, and this would be the best send off in that regard.; Utterly deserves it.
Best TV Comedy Actress
For the first time ever, an actress has scored two nominations ni this category, as Olivia Coleman is up for the award in both REV and "Twenty Twelve". Also nominated is JESSICA HAYES for "Twenty Twelve" and REBECCA FRONT for "The Thick Of It". Again, a very strong category. Well, as I've intonated, they all are, but this is a hard one to call. I couldn't give tit to Coleman for Twenty Twelve. Hayes is the better performer in the context of that show. But Coleman could win it for Rev quite easily. Again though, I'm leaning The Thcik Of It's way with Rebecca Front. She didn't necessarily get the funniest lines in that show, but her performance as floundering opposiition leader Nicola Murray, especially in a mid-season episode on a train, where she was essentially forced into resigning.
Best Sketch Show
The shows up for consideration here are "Cardinal Burns" once again, FACEJACKER, children's show Horrible Histories and skewed-impressions show "Very Important People. or me, this one is between Cardinal Burns and Horrible Histories. Facejacker, which is a show where members of the public are pranked with by Kayvan Novak, in a take on his previous show Fonejacker, which was prank phone calls by different characters of Novak's. Novak is a very funny guy, but this isn't necessarily my thing. With VERY IMPORTNAT PEOPLE, it's also fine enough, and I think in the right vehicle, such as this, it's main star Morgana Robinson is very talented (her own show oddly enough was largely a heap o' shite), but it's been pretty much done before.
While I mentioned that HORRIBLE HISTORIES is a children's show, don't let that fool you. It's not dumbed down, and is really funny. Indeed, there have been a few comedy shows "aimed" at children in the last couple of years that have garnered acclaim by adults just as much. That said, you can't say Cardinal Burns is in any way aimed at children, as it exploded onto our screens earlier this year. One of my favourite new comedy shows of the year, the pair who have regularly performed at the Edinburgh fringe Festival are destined for huge things. I'd give them the win here. This is one of the few categories where I'll be shocked if my pick doesn't win, actually.
Best Male Television Comic
While Harry Hill, as noted earlier, has been nominated here for the last 7 years in a row, SEAN LOCK is nominated for any award for the first time in 12 years for his regular role on the panel show "8 Out Of 10 Cats", while the other 2 nominations come from the same panel show "Would I Lie To You?" with the two team captains DAVID MITCHELL & LEE MACK getting nods here. Another ridiculously hard category to choose from. I wouldn't go Harry Hill here, purely because he has another nominations that the others don't.
The problem I have with Lee Mack and David Mitchell is that I think they are funnier elsehwere. Not that Would I Lie To You isn't a funny show. It sure as hell is. It's just that Mack is better in "Not Going Out" and Mitchell is better in things like "10'O'Clock Live" and "Peep Show". So I would probably give the nod to Sean Lock here, especially since he doesn't do much other TV work to compare his role on "8 Out Of 10 Cats" to.
Best Comedy Entertainment Personality
Indeed, this is the "similar" category I mentioned that Harry Hill is also, once again, nominated in. His competition includes chat show host Graham Norton, STEPHEN FRY as host of panel show "QI" and Charlie Brooker for CHARLIE BROOKER'S 2011 WIPE (THIS IS THE FULL SHOW) (which was a satirical and caustic look back at 2011 at the end of last year.
I am a massive Charlie Brooker fan, having read his newpaper columns and then watched his show. Not an actual comedian as such and more a satirist, this is the right category for him because he's really funny, but he's not telling jokes. Indeed, it's with great excitement I await early next year as Brooker begins a new show "Weekly Wipe", which is a weekly look at the news and showbusiness rather than his other "Wipe" shows which looked solely at TV, the News or indeed the one-off one on computer games.
Stephen Fry is what you would call a "National treasure" (kinda think as to how Betty White is seen these days), so while he's great, he really doesn't
NEED it. Norton is very well liked too, so for either of those three to win would be no bad thing. However, I can't see past Hill here again to do the double, again largely as a "thank you" since the show in question is ending.
Best Female Television Comic
It probably says something about the dearth of female comics on TV that this category drew half it's nominations from guest hosting roles on the panel show "Have I Got News For You", and indeed another from a documentary, whereas all the male nominations saw them come from guys with regular roles on shows.
The only nomination coming from a show she's a regular on (because it's her own show) is SARAH MILLICAN, whose career has been massive since she won Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh fringe not a million years ago. JO BRAND and SUE PERKINS are the ones who got nods for the "HIGNFY" hosting roles, while the fourth nomination goes to ventriloquist NINA CONTI (Not from the show she's nominated for, just some of her stand=up) for her documentary "Make Me Happy: A Monkey's Search For Happiness" (the monkey in question being her signature piuppet "Monk") which looked at new age/alernative therapies. Just for the novel selection, I'd go with Nina Conti here, although it wouldn't shock me if it went with Millican.
I'll say it again. This is a TOUGH category with "Twenty Twelve", "Hunderby", "The Thick Of It" and "Rev". The case of any of them is an easy and good one to make. Me being my own judging panel, I've kinda fucked over Twenty Twelve and Rev so far, so I'd pick one of those 2. Probably Twenty Twelve, simply because there can't be another series. Not until they bring back the Olympics to London again anyway, whereas Rev can get it's due after the next series, which there will be one of.
Best Comedy Breakthrough Artist
Nominated here are Seb Cardinal & Dustin Demri-Burns as a pair for Cardinal Burns, Nina Conti again, Moragana Robinson for Very Important People and David Rawle for his performances as the titular character in Moone Boy. As noted, Cardinal Burns is my favourite new comedy, I think Robinson and Conti are very funny. However, David Rawle's performance is utterly perfect in Moone Boy. For a child actor to have the poise and timing he has is remarkable. I would for sure given him the award here.
King/Queen Of Comedy
The final nominated category is a straight-up publicly voted for popularity contest. Who is your favourite. Vote for them. Someone wins. It's not for a show or a performance. Just who do you like most. This is the third year the award has been given out. There was a "People's Choice Award", but there was controversy when in 2005, the winner was declared as the wrong show. The allegation was that the present of the award, singer Robbie Williams, would be "happy to do so" if Ant & Dec won, and was thus given this assurance, although investigations couldn't say if Williams' involvement directly led to te wrong show winning.
Mainly because for the same award, there was a scandal that emerged where voters for that award had been tacitly encouraged to keep voting even though the lines had actually closed. It was so bad, it actually led to the postponment of the 2007 Awards. However, it was far from the only TV featuring calling in to either vote or participate to do this.
Anyway, the nominees here are Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, JACK WHITEHALL (Stand Up Comedian and Actor), Lee Mack and last year's winner Sarah Millican. It will be interesting to see who wins as of the 2 previous winners, they have both been women, so we either have the first "king" or MIllican wins again. Personally, I will vote for David Mitchell. Purely for esoteric reasons. Any one of them could win and it would be a good choice.
That's not to say there aren't some omissions that deserve recognition. My favourite TV show of all time "Never Mind The Buzzcocks" is missing representation, probably due to the removal of a panel show category. Indeed, Buzzcocks team captain and Mighty Boosh creator Noel Fielding hasn't gotten a mention, despite having his own sketch show "Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy" start this year, and very good it was too. Nothing for Ricky Gervais and his "Life's Too Short" show. Was Gervais' best show, but I thought still good. Indeed, An Idiot Abroad 2 and The Ricky Gervais Show got nothing either. And Gervais was great as Derek, in the show of the same name.
I'm surprised that Channel 4's student sitcom "Fresh Meat" got nothing either. Only it's star, Jack Whitehall, is nominated in the public vote. BBC 3 sitcom "Cuckoo" featuring Andy Samberg and Greg Davies should have gotten something. Either in the sitcom or actor categories, especially Davies whose star is very much on the rise. While Charlie Brooker has been nominated as Entertainment Personality, the spoof police show he wrote "A Touch Of Cloth" hasn't been recognised, which is as terrible as the show was awesome.
The actual British Comedy Awards themselves will be awarded, as noted, on December 12th. Look out for a podcast on Club WWI then discussing the winners and losers. You can find the official website at www.britishcomedyawards.com.