10 O’Clock Live is the brand new live topical news show from Channel 4. It works on the same basis as Channel 4’s Alternative Election from the election night 2010. Channel 4 have taken a big risk in airing a live satirical show in which anything could go wrong. Luckily, they have an A-list of satirists and comedians… and Lauren Laverne.
This list includes the ever cynical Charlie Brooker, who brings his patronising, stark commentary to the table, complemented by a dash of David Mitchell’s ability to pry open his interviewees to the core with his intellectual wit. Jimmy Carr provides a slice of the everyday and astute humor and this is all held together by Lauren Laverne – I suppose they can’t all be funny and there has to be a straight man (or woman). I don’t know what it is with Laverne but she doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the other three and her delivery and comments seem to go down worse than finding out you’ve accidentally hired Gary Glitter as your children’s entertainer. Nevertheless, the talent of the others keep the show running at a good pace.
The show revolves largely around the issues of the week drawn out in monologues, interviews and discussions with key thinkers and actors who can provide a solid argument and poignant thoughts. That said, it’s not BBC’s Question Time , which it is scheduled against, but on the other hand it’s not Have I Got News For You either. Rather, it mixes Paxman with Mock The Week in that it tackles the hard issues but in all its a comedy show. Therefore, it lies in that awkward space in which the show is unashamedly intellectual at times but self-consciously humors itself in doing so. It provides an edgy spin on the news much in the same vein as Brooker’s Newswipe series, which is off-the-cuff and isn’t pre-recorded two days before it’s aired.
With a strong set up, here comes the key question. Is it worth watching? Yes. The frank discussions and rants are serious but remain down to Earth. The fact that it’s live really adds to the entertainment, especially during discussions as Mitchell tries to wrestle for control at times. Furthermore, being live enables the show to by relevant, cutting-edge and spur-of-the moment. There’s no editing or cutting and has led to some jokes being close to the mark and use of the ‘C’ word by Charlie Brooker, although this is seemingly becoming more frequently used and acceptable in politics.
Three shows in and the presenters have settled. Jimmy Carr has said he was particularly nervous but they are all experienced performers with the ability to handle it. If anything, they are too good. There are few slip-ups or mistakes that makes live TV enticing. And on the other hand, the intellectual discussions and interviews which beak up the comedy can be somewhat alienating to some people but for others it is a revelation. British TV has never had anything like this, at least not since The Word. It’s fresh, bold and British – cynical, satirical and self-deprecating.