The first edition of Channel 4’s sideways look at politics and other current affairs, Ten O’Clock Live, which aired at 2200 UK time yesterday, was always going to be judged alongside what had gone before, or what was going on elsewhere. And so it came to pass: the Guardian review made the inevitable comparisons with That Was The Week That Was, which actually ran only from 1962 to 1963, and the Daily Show, hosted by Jon Stewart.
And those comparisons are something the folks at C4 must not only get used to, but also, mostly, put aside: they must create their own identity. TW3 is more revered in hindsight than it was at the time, and nobody on UK TV right now is going to measure up to Stewart.
The programme itself? You knew it really was live, this being reinforced by some of the presenters starting their segments with “Right ...”. The interviews featured a proper and quite senior politician – Tory David Willetts – and the group discussing bankers’ pay had a nicely edgy and unpredictable quality.
Any bad bits? There was no need to keep panning across the audience. If the item is funny, then the viewer doesn’t need prompting by showing part of the gallery. I wasn’t convinced that all the show needed to be live – the Daily Show remains topical but what you see is all pre-recorded. One or two pre-prepared segments would give the team a breathing space.
And on the subject of the Daily Show, that programme airs four times a week – a once weekly format is always at a disadvantage. The news about Alan Johnson just scraped in, but that on Tone’s return to the Iraq Enquiry, and Andy Coulson’s exit, won’t be so fresh when it inevitably comes under scrutiny next week.
Finally ... C4 should make video clips of show segments available, as Comedy Central do for Daily Show interviews or lead items – sites like the Huffington Post invariably plug these, and UK web media would readily do the same. This helps the show reach more of that target audience without their having to sit through the whole fifty minutes playing time.
[The first Ten O’Clock Live can be seen on 4OD HERE. Very strong language, as befits any sensible analysis of Jeremy, er, Hunt]