Comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer will broadcast their new sketch show exclusively on the web.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 9 june 2011

This article titled “Vic and Bob go online to deliver Afternoon Delights” was written by Julia Raeside, for on Wednesday 8th June 2011 14.05 UTC

Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have today given comedy fans the news they’ve been longing for. They are returning to sketch comedy with a new series called Vic and Bob’s Afternoon Delights. But, as with the return of Alan Partridge last year, they are making the shows with the backing of Foster’s lager and will broadcast them on the web.

It is some years since we have seen a new Reeves and Mortimer sketch show. The BBC reportedly turned down a new sketch series, HMS Reeves and Mortimer a couple of years ago, preferring to re-commission the pair’s panel show Shooting Stars – a more solid ratings performer than their previous sketch outings. But some of the funniest moments in the recent series of Shooting Stars were sketches taken from early work on HMS Reeves and Mortimer.

The comedians have said for some time that they’d be keen to make another sketch show – but to do so it appears that they have had to sidestep the BBC. The questions is: will other comedians follow suit? As TV comedy seems to increasingly squeeze out originality in favour of broad appeal, perhaps the web is the obvious home for the more leftfield talents, leaving broadcasters to the Michael MacIntyres of this world?

In the press release for Afternoon Delights Reeves said: “Foster’s has given us the freedom to let our imaginations run wild and present to you, via the internet, some exclusive characters and sketches.”

This appears to be something they didn’t have with a more traditional broadcaster. With endless recourse to focus groups and audience research, the “talent” is no longer trusted to be funny. Monty Python wasn’t the product of carefully researched demographic profiling. It flew freely from the minds of some very clever people who knew what made them laugh. Now ratings seem to be all, is it any wonder that some very big names are turning their back on traditional broadcasters? (Interestingly, in the wake of Mid Morning Matters’ online success, Coogan has recently been talking to broadcasters about reworking the series for TV.)

There’s also something about that 10- to 15-minute hit which works really well with comedy. In the early 2000s, BBC2 commissioned perfect little 10-minute slots to broadcast shows like Marion and Geoff and Posh Nosh, ostensibly to fill out the scheduling gap left by imported US programmes, which ran shorter than our British one-hour slots. But they were perfect, bite-size and satisfying. Ten minutes is also the ideal length for a webcast, giving you just enough time to get into it and leaving you wanting to see the next one.

And if the web’s good enough for Vic and Bob and Steve Coogan, who else could be due a revival? In my wildest dreams, the cast of Absolutely are now sitting around a table with Foster’s executives, planning their own return to our screens, albeit computer screens. And if the various cast members of Big Train could just take a short break from their incredibly successful careers to make a new series of 10-minute, web-friendly quickies, I would even pretend to like lager. Tell us below who else you’d like to see … © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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