Saturday, 4 December 2010

Steve Coogan in The Trip: Not 'a c**t'

"Is it true what I read about you?"

"What's that?"

"That you're a bit of a c**t?"

Episode four of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's semi-improvised restaurant-reviewing comedy series The Trip  (BBC Two) is continuing to gently but sharply spoof aspects of the two lead's public personas.

Steve Coogan, sent on a writing assignment for the Observer magazine, invites Brydon on the week-long trip around the restaurants of some of the tourist spots of rural northern England, as he's got no-one else to ask.

So Coogan is an ego-led smart-arse full of quips, information, acting tips and insecurity, while Brydon does a lot of impersonations of Ronnie Corbett and Michael Caine.

But the cutting and apparently off-the-cuff banter between the two, perhaps mirroring that of the friendships of some of the thirty- or forty-something blokes watching -  and carried out while driving, walking or, er having dinner together in a nice restaurant (I said 'perhaps' mirroring) - is what carries the programme, but, oddly for a comedy, it isn't always funny in the way that a serious drama isn't always funny.

But when The Trip is funny, like when the pair mimick an army general ordering his troops as if in a period costume drama ("Gentlemen to bed!"), is brilliant.

The restaurant-reviewing premise might not sound like the most thrilling idea for a six-part 30 minute sitcom (although 'sitcom' doesn't actually feel like the right word), and it's true that some people have failed to get, or find, the joke, or levelled criticisms of self-indulgence at it.

But the combination of nice greeny scenery, close ups of each restaurant's best dishes (probably), that aforementioned banter and the odd moments of - prepare for an A-level English moment please - erm, 'pathos', creates something that isn't always funny and even a bit awkward - but still I want to watch.

But the bit where the bloke asks Coogan if he's a bit of c**t is definitely the best.

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