Last July, a trial-run series of a new chat show hosted by Alan Davies was broadcast on Dave, and frankly, I was over the moon. The programme aims to recreate the atmosphere of a green room at a comedy gig, inviting four guests for a chat with a minimal agenda. The format is truly up and running now and a full series was broadcast, starting in January.
With the series spanning ten episodes, and four guests each week, As Yet Untitled presents a large number of guests, comedians in particular, including some that we haven’t heard from in a while. The legendary Ricky Tomlinson (Royle Family) and writer Grace Dent both feature, as well as some true comedy greats including Sarah Millican, Ross Noble, Julian Clary and David Baddiel.
As Yet Untitled also promotes a new ‘wave’ of comedians that appear to be taking over the British comedy scene, including Nish Kumar, Angela Barnes, Elis James, James Acaster, Roisin Conaty and Tom Wrigglesworth. As this show grows it would be nice to see it gather more and more attention for the younger generation of comedians coming through which would help them get a solid grounding earlier on and enable audiences access to some incredible talent. It also features fantastic comedy talent from different parts of the world, some possibly making their debut on British television, including Aussie stand up Felicity Ward and Catastrophe‘s Rob Delaney.
The chat is often awkward and stunted in places, possibly due to editing, but this can be expected when a group of people who don’t necessarily know each other are asked to entertain themselves and a live audience; it can’t ever appear one hundred percent natural. In my opinion, this honesty add to the authenticity of the programme and also enables us to see another side to some comics that may have seemed (understandably) distant. Jimmy Carr especially appeared to settle into the informal atmosphere as the first episode wore on, showing a more natural side to him that his job, as panel show host in particular, hasn’t often allowed in the past.
We also get to see a kind and sensitive side to Alan Davies that isn’t necessarily catered for in other panel shows purely due to the format. He shows himself to be very inclusive and supportive of all the guests, though it is hard to judge that when watching the televised cut, and is skilled at nurturing the conversation which seems to help all the guests relax into the strange format. The discussion is more structured this series, with each guest starting with a strange fact about themselves, or a suggestion of something obscure that once happened to them, and then taking their turn to explain in more detail. The transitions are occasionally disjointed, but often the guests are relaxed enough to continue the conversational feel despite a swift subject change.
I think we have a programme here that is very much a niche type of entertainment programme, but I hope its audience continues to grow as it truly is a very enjoyable and interesting watch.