The days are getting shorter, the nights are getting colder, and suddenly there’s a bunch of new comedy series on tv. Here’s your guide to great things returning this week, and one show that we can really do without…
Yonderland (Sky 1) Sunday 16th October 6pm
Written by and starring the cast of Horrible Histories, this show now returning for Series 3 is unrestrained by facts or learning and transplanted to a fantasy land on Sky1. Nice and normal Brummie housewife Debbie Maddox (Martha Howe-Douglas) is the saviour of this strange and silly land. She tries to impose some order on the chaos (fighting inept demons, going on mystical quests, dealing with the totally insane ruling council) while keeping her unbelievable double life secret from her husband Pete (Dan Renton-Skinner – brilliant in everything). If you’ve not seen the first two series, treat yourself because they’re all on Sky Catch Up right now. It’s the kind of show you need to watch recorded as Series 1 especially would make you laugh so loud and hard that you’d miss the next punchline and have to rewind it.
The cast are witty and charming with exceptional comedy timing and you can see the whole operation takes a serious amount of artistic work especially on the sets and puppets, so much so that you entirely believe the monsters and various weirdos are quite real. Speaking of which, Stephen Fry is in this series.
Still Game (BBC1) Friday 7th October 9:30pm
The phenomenally successful Scottish comedy is back for Series 7. The antics of Jack and Victor, two Glaswegian pensioners, are back on tv after quite a break; their success assured by a record-breaking stadium run at the SSE Hydro arena. In 2014 their fans crashed the website and 100,000 tickets sold on the first day.
It’s a classic sitcom – not something that’s necessarily easy to understand (you’ve got to get your ear in) but it’s warm, funny, occasionally pulls on your heartstrings and is always outrageous.
Here’s to our old age being half as fun as this.
Taskmaster (Dave) Tuesday 4th October 10pm
Surprisingly quick turn-around on this one as Series 2 was only broadcast in June this year and they’re back with a new series already. It’s a very welcome return all the same. This is appointment television.
Created by Alex Horne, who plays the admin assistant to Greg Davies’ Taskmaster dictator, it’s a show built around fiendishly simple comedic and bizarre tasks dished out to five regular contestants, usually stars from the world of stand-up.
These tasks have included: paint a picture of a horse, while riding a horse, making a bed as a team while holding hands, and working out a way to impress the mayor of Chesham.
Someone commented in a bitter fashion earlier this year that the line-up looks odd – there’s always a brown one and a lady one. I wonder if this is Dave striving for better representation in a field that’s been largely a mans’ game up until recently. Is it weird? Is it necessary? Is it not going far enough? I don’t know. I know it’s good though.
Have I Got News For You – series 52! (BBC1) Friday 7th October 9pm
52 series! I knew it was long-running (it’s been on the air since 1990) but that’s a crazy number of episodes. And it’s been on the wane for a long, long time. I’m not saying they don’t come up with their own jokes. Of course they do, but the jokes are so obvious that you will have heard them three times and seen them on Twitter four times before the programme is broadcast that week. And what exactly can they bring to the show now that we’re in a post-satire world? The advert with Paul Merton as the 100% accurate fortune teller that Ian Hislop thinks is full of twaddle shows that we’re in the strangest political reality for a generation. HIGNFY is slow, it’s dull, it’s repetitive. And now everyone makes jokes on social media almost immediately as a news story breaks, it’s become irrelevant. Sorry guys – I think it’s 52 all out.