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Review: John Bishop's Christmas Show


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Comedian John Bishop has hand-picked his favourite performers and he’ll be showcasing them to the nation in his BBC1 Christmas special, aired on Monday 23rd December 2013. With a fantastic line-up of comedians, singers, and dancers, it’s going to be an absolute treat. I managed to get tickets to the filming. You won’t be disappointed...

Red Santa hats were draped over each and every one of the Lyceum Theatre’s 2,100 seats. What you will see next Monday is no illusion – we all wore Christmas hats, we all sang along in chorus to your favourite festive melodies, and we all laughed our absolute heads off at the true genius of British comedy. Then again, with a line-up like this, that probably goes without saying.

The show started off with John Bishop striding onto the stage. There was no grand opening like you’d expect to find in a West End theatre, for this was a different affair. We were involved with the production of a new show, essentially becoming the BBC’s laugh-machine for the evening. Nobody was complaining. As soon as Bishop opened his mouth, everyone was put at ease. This witty scouser was just ‘one of the guys’; the whole evening was incredibly informal. He told us exactly what was going on, and we found ourselves being asked to applaud on cue whilst he introduced an imaginary comedian to the stage. The performers didn’t do their routines in order, and many of them were telling the producers to “take that out” when they stumbled upon a word or encountered a joke that didn’t go down too well. The magic of television is just fascinating, and it should be interesting to see how the polished product ends up on Monday.

The crowd fell silent as the stage manager organised everyone on stage. But then, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, Olly Murs just walked onto the stage and began helping out.

Hushed whispers of “is that Olly Murs?!” spread around the room. Bishop noticed him after a few seconds, and then gave him the Hollywood welcome. I was completely shocked. He hadn’t been advertised on the schedule, and he was one of our “surprise guests” for the evening. This was getting better and better by the minute.

We watched comedy routines from Jason Manford, Nina Conti, Lee Nelson, David O’Doherty, and Tim Vine.

Manford was as good as ever, and Conti did a ventriloquist act with a character called Stefan, a yellow-headed Polish builder wearing a full boiler suit. An audience member climbed into the suit, and then proceeded to do “push-ups” on Conti after a series of unfortunate events. Out of context, it would have looked very strange indeed.

Simon Brodkin, more popularly known as Lee Nelson, was particularly good, and his discussion of the north/south divide had me in stitches (well of course, it’s always a cause for good banter). David O’Doherty was decent, although this particular act was slightly random. He performed a musical comedy routine, and whilst it was good, it just didn’t seem as polished as the rest.

Tim Vine was the top dog for me. He’s an absolute genius when it comes to one-liners, and I couldn’t have been happier when I saw his name on the line-up. He didn’t fail to impress, and I’m sure his “Christmas Cracker” jokes will be incredibly well received on Monday.

We saw performances from the Tiller girls and the Overtones, but our second “surprise guest” was the one and only Ellie Goulding. Strangely, her music has never really made much of an impression on me. She was; however, absolutely brilliant and I wouldn’t mind seeing her live after hearing that performance.

In terms of content, it is being broadcast after the 9pm watershed, so the performers were allowed some degree of lee-way. You could tell they were conscious of its slot on BBC1 though and, on the whole, not too many jokes overstepped the mark. The whole evening was an absolute gem. It combined two of the country’s biggest artists with a handful of television’s funniest comedians. The nation is in for a treat on Monday night, and I just can’t wait to watch it all over again...

Tune into John Bishop’s Christmas Show on BBC1 - Monday 23rd December 2013 at 9pm.

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