James Rampton on comedy

Click to follow
Lee Hurst's hosting of Saturday Live was announced with a typically over-the-top ITV fanfare - all poster campaigns and chat-show appearances. The actual series, however, proved a turn-off for both critics and viewers, and Claudia Rosencrantz, ITV's controller of entertainment, announced last weekend that it was not being re-commissioned, even going so far as to call the show a disaster. She did, though, single out Hurst (below left) for praise - and quite right, too, because whatever catastrophes were going on around him, he always managed to maintain his spark as the frontman. (Just as whenever the atmosphere threatens to get too hearty on They Think It's All Over, he invariably punctures it with a deflating quip.)

The bald stand-up - hecklers always imagine they are the first ever to think of calling him "slaphead" - generates the same electricity on the live stage, crackling with one-liners and likeability. A former warm-up man on such shows as Have I Got News For You, he has that priceless ability to form an instant rapport with an audience. I once saw him offer to perform a 20-minute set during a technical hitch at a recording of They Think It's All Over - and the audience whooped with delight at the prospect.

Lee Hurst is appearing with Martin Coyote, Boothby Graffoe, Steve Gribbin, Sean Meo and John Moloney in Cutting Edge at the Comedy Store, Haymarket House, Oxendon St, London, SW1 (0171-344 4444) on Tue