IoS TV review: Kookyville, Channel 4, Sunday
Peep Show, Channel 4, Sunday
Fresh Meat, Channel 4, Tuesday

'Kookyville' is 'constructed reality comedy' – and yes, it is as terrible as it sounds

As a rule, I wouldn't advocate writing television reviews for cathartic ends – there are magazine columns for that. But when a show causes your hands to involuntarily clamp your face in a Munch-like scream of a Sunday evening, it seems careless not to work back through your experiences. And so, while there was some good, honest programme-making in the schedules last week – may I recommend catching up with Alex Gibney's documentary Park Avenue: Money Power and the American Dream on iPlayer – I must purge myself of Kookyville before returning to the sphere of the critically temperate.

"Welcome to a sketch show with a difference …" purred Fenella Fielding, deployed in the Tom Baker/ Little Britain role of ironic posho narrator. "These people are not actors or comedians and there's no script … they're just real funny people."

And if you thought that some combo of comedians, acting, scripts or forethought was almost fundamental to the sketch-show format, then you obviously lack the basic contempt for human beings of the Kookyville commissioners. This, you see, was nothing less than the first example of "constructed reality comedy", in no way the kind of idea that would be farted out by an Apprentice contestant should they ever be asked to tackle TV production.

As with your basic constructed reality show, the idea was that a bunch of purportedly non-fictional people go about their purportedly non-fictional lives while excreting stilted dialogue in obviously staged set-ups. Only here, in a presumed attempt to justify that comedy billing, the dialogue came with the added stench of sub-Frankie Boyle obnoxiousness.

Not every scene was unwatchable. The one involving two Essex girls' protracted intellectual struggle at a farm was merely a failed audition piece for The Only Way is Essex, while Bradford entrepreneur Afzal safely plumped for being re-christened Ricky Meh-vais with his unofficial tribute to David Brent. More attention-grabbing, sadly, was swearword-happy pensioner Ronnie who, likely concerned about the mellow view of her generation being peddled by BBC1's Last Tango in Halifax, mimed a diarrhoea episode in her local Chinese. Before volunteering to chew Simon Cowell's balls.

So vanilla, you say? Well, then, I give you the mother-daughter pair Suzanne and Annierose, seen gawping and gasping at a dwarf before contemplating the horror of one trying to suckle Annierose's breasts. And – my favourite – the hotelier couple who joked about trying to throw a Thalidomide victim through a window, which also allowed for that old impressionist's standard routine, wholly ignored by Rory Bremner et al, the "ickle-wickle Thalidomide victim voice".

The programme was fair in one respect; the joke, such as it was, was on everyone: the short and disabled; the "real" comics, representing all those funny, uncouth sorts outside metropolitan media circles; the godforsaken viewer; and, of course, the beleaguered Channel 4, increasingly prone to trolling audiences for attention. In that respect, Kookyville succeeded, whipping up a social media gale and instant reviews along the lines of "Put this atrocity out of its misery". But the obvious point, inside the Twittersphere and out, is that exercising your right to provoke mindlessly will eventually result only in mass unfollows.

Then again, the existence of Kookyville may have just been a ploy to flatter the preceding Peep Show: a bona fide comedy returning, remarkably, for an eighth series. And though this tale of two emotionally stunted flatmates isn't quite as snortworthy as it once was, it's gained a kind of pathos in its middle age, bound up with its lead duo's near-pathological inability to change. A state of affairs encapsulated beautifully in this week's opener when David Mitchell's anal Mark reacted to the death of love rival Gerard. "Life, spinning past, every second, every single fleeting moment until we're gone," he mused. "I'm taking a look at my phone tariff."

But if Peep Show has settled into a groove, Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong's other hit, Fresh Meat, has come of age with the end of its second run. First time round, the student sitcom was chipper but clunky fare. But, just as its fresher gang have grown up, so the whole thing has become sharper, wiser, and more lovable. Now here's hoping it doesn't mirror the classic uni trajectory too closely and succumb to a third year of soft drinks and solipsism.

Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
    Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

    Marian Keyes

    The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

    Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

    Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
    Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

    Rodgers fights for his reputation

    Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
    Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

    Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

    'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
    Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick