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Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned

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      02.02.2010 17:56
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      More Miss than Hit

      This show used to take place on ITV at around 10pm on week nights, it was fairly risky for live television in that you had comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner sat on a sofa and they would just chat and banter with the studio audience.

      The guys took this show on the road to theatres after the tv show ended and it was successful only because of their personalities and ability to think on their feet.

      The guys got the show because they were both successful comedians and had a real rapport, their television programme, Fantasy Football proved enormously popular and seemed to involve them sat on a sofa ad-libbing and talking football without ever seeming to work from a script or with any direction.

      The show was a huge hit and proved successful before World Cup matches and even spawned the phenomenally successful 'Three Lions' anthem, on the crest of this the guys got the 'unplanned' gig.

      There were 5 series and 60 shows in total and they weren't allowed to discuss football to avoid comparison with Fantasy Footy, the show was originally developed at the Edinburgh Festival and proved popular there and on the West End.

      The show was basically the audience asking questions with Baddiel and Skinner answering and then somebody randomly picking a song for the chaps to sing.

      As it sounds the show was very hit and miss, it could be very funny or utterly miss the mark, but then it was unplanned and live, so thats not a real shocker. Baddiel has since gone on to become a famous writer while Skinner continues comedy and DJ'ing.

      I doubt we'll ever see such a show again, it was more miss than hit for me and I felt it lacked the warmth and audience love of Fantasy Football, i'd love to see more of the latter where Skinner and Baddiel were in their element but this show was too gratuitous, left Baddiel looking a lot less sharp next to the very funny Skinner and quite often bombed.

      3 Out of 5 for its bravery, but more miss than hit in my book.

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      10.12.2009 22:12
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      Jovial matey banter you might hear in a pub, but they're getting PAID for it!

      I remember this got either slandered by the snobs or praised upon for having the guts to perform a show unscripted, that did pretty well, for the goal of having amusing banter with your mate in front of a studio audience. And yes it worked, that's why it spanned 5 series and 60 episodes

      David Baddiel and Frank Skinner are real-life friends and former flatmates, who started out doing a show which incorporated one oftheir biggest passions; football. This was called "Baddiel and Skinner's Fantasy Football". The laddish-type humour went down very well with the mid-90's "Loaded" generation, and after the show was no longer a regular series (lasted 1994-1996), with no clear plans of a return special in following World Cup's/Euro's, the pair hoped to resurrect their partnership in this programme, with the same sort of humour, but this time over a wide array of topics...apart from football!

      So the show started in 2000, and ran up to 2003, with a further series in 2005. The show finished maybe because Skinner, after also having a successful chat show series, wanted a break from TV work and to focus on being back on the stand-up circuit.

      The difference between Baddiel and Skinner: Frank Skinner is the more populist, straight-up common man, stand-up comedian while Baddiel is the more intellectual, usually seen writing columns and his own stand-up shows, and even the odd appearance on "Question Time". Usually most people will say Skinner is the funnier of the 2. Baddiel's comedy style is somewhat more downbeat and anti-social than Skinner's more laddish act.

      The main gist of "Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned" is they talk about anything (apart from the footie!) and interact with the audience. Each episode they select a member from the audience, who will sit at the side of the stage, beside a large board, a little like a balck/white board but kind of yellow-ish, brown-ish. So the member is to note down all the topics that are discussed, armed with a marker. Previous boards from previous episodes were hanged up above the current board. This seemed like something quite random, but this led to some relief between the to-and-for of only Baddiel and Skinner, and then they have a 3rd person into the mix.

      At the end of each episode, Skinner asks the audience to pick a random number. This refers to a songbook for a piano, and just by chance, Baddiel can also play the piano quite well, so Skinner has a little sing-a-long at the end.

      It's not enormously funny, but it is unscripted after all. It was something that we've never seen before and might never see again (?). What was great about this show, was that some of the topics discussed were wildly obscure, but something you may be able to identify with. I mean "orgasmic toes", the less said about that the better! The show also focused, and gave you insight into the comedian's background, especially Baddiel's Jewish heritage.

      Also the show had a funny memorable theme song, in which mostly consisted of 3 words "It'll Never Work", and then at the end, Baddiel and Skinner ad-libbing, "And Neither Will We Again!" Still got that song in my head.

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        05.11.2008 17:21
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        good simple comedy

        david baddiel and frank skinner are two fantastic comedians with a show that follows a completely new format. the show is completely unscripted, which really allows for a show where you don't know exactly where the content will lead.

        i think the best part of this is that it really puts them on the spot, and it shows what talent they really have. one of the other main characteristics which gives a unique twist to the show is the secretary. someone is picked from the audience at random and it is there job to record everything which is talked about during the show. The secretary in themselves becomes a character as frank and david normally find some way in which to bring them to life - including the very funny male dressed as a nurse which features on the best of video.

        every show ends up with a song, where baddiel shows off his musical prowess by playing either the guitar or piano while frank skinner sings along. i'm not sure that singing is franks best talent but it certainly is a more exciting way to end a show :)

        The format of improvised comedy certainly didnt begin or end with this pair, but as they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it! and this certainly manages to pack in the laughs.

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          08.08.2008 02:52

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          There is a tendency for much of the TV comedy output these days to be of the spontaneous unscripted variety and Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned is one such example. The theory is that the comedians are so good and so clever at improvisation that they can make almost anything funny. Now there may be comedians out there that can do that but they are not called Baddiel and Skinner.

          Firstly I take exception to the rip off that is the opening sequence. The 'they said it couldn't be done' song. A very similar theme was used by Conan O'Brien when he first started his late night chat show in the USA. Whereas O'Brien proved he could cut the mustard Baddiel and Skinner couldn't cut soft butter with a hot knife.
          Of course I accept that such a way of presenting comedy in this format is going to be a bit hit-and-miss, some things will appeal to someones sense of humour but not necessarily to another persons. The problem was this programme was so consistently unfunny. There were very few real laughs and not much to smile about if you discount the embarrassed giggles at the sheer appallingness of it.

          Frank Skinner had proved with his earlier chat show that he has a nice line in a conversational style of humour. He was nicely self-deprectaing and never took himself or his guests too seriously. Why he chose to team up again with the smugly morose David Baddiel is a mystery. It is certainly Baddiel I have most trouble with in considering him a comedian. He is just too cynical and too sarcastic for me. What he says has some relevance but it is not particularly clever and not overtly funny.
          They used a member of the audience to take notes of what was said and probably with the intention of it adding to the humour. Almost without exception it didn't do so. Finally they end as they started, ripping off another comedians work by having Baddiel play the piano amateurishly. This direct copy of what Les Dawson did failed too. Where Dawson did it with panache Baddiel just tried too hard to play well. It was liking having a young relative show how they've reached Grade 3 on the piano and laughing at the inept playing. Just not funny.

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          09.07.2004 04:38
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          • "I wouldn't buy it on DVD"

          “Two blokes. One sofa. No script.”

          This premise on the front of a theatre opens the pre-recorded title sequence to Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned, a low budget but quite well-known comedy based completely on improvisation and audience interaction. This programme was either doomed to failure or popularity among a limited audience: as it happens, it was the latter.

          I’ve never particularly been a fan of either Baddiel or Skinner, but this programme caught my attention when it was advertised in 2000 on ITV (I refuse to call it ‘ITV1.’ It’s only called that on old, brown television sets that don’t have remote controls), providing a comedy show in the 21.30 – 23.30 slot when the fourteen-year-old me had not discovered the pleasures of guiding the TV category on Dooyoo and I literally had nothing to do at night. Well, apart from that.

          In February I rediscovered this show being repeated on the Paramount channel and although I felt a little silly and conformist watching it again, I found it strangely addictive. My 10.20pm slot was full for a while. There is plenty of criticism that can be (and indeed has been) aimed at this show, but it’s also strangely enjoyable for all its low-key dullness. It also doesn’t seem important that the show (which was originally live, at least in the first series) is several years old, although discussions over sport events and political or celebrity personalities do provide a splash of age water every so often.


          THE PRESENTERS


          The show is presented from a very comfy-looking brown sofa in a studio, occupied by David Baddiel (on the left) and Frank Skinner (right). Behind them is a large blue backdrop featuring caricatures of their faces, something that itself receives some criticism over the series, and in front of them is the ascending studio audience. David and Frank basically act like themselves, at least that’s the idea, and their different personalities are the driving force behind the show.


          • THE SKINNER ONE

          Clearly the more popular of the two, although I’m not really a fan of either of them on anything other than this, Frank Skinner (real name Chris Collins) is the loveable Birmingham-born everyman comedian. Frank has a habit (that can be both very amusing or very annoying) of converting peoples’ comments into sexual ones and his general movements and actions lead to him being called “the campest straight guy on TV” by many of the audience and the Baddiel one.

          As this show lends itself to a certain cult following, many of the audience are long-time fans of the duo, but especially of Frank. On a number of occasions Frank realises he has met obsessive women in the audience before and his general charm lets him get away with all manner of potentially offensive jokes. The Baddiel one puts a ban on his Jewish jokes quite early on though.


          • THE BADDIEL ONE

          David Baddiel (real name also Chris Collins. Not really) was apparently the token silly one of the Newman and Baddiel duo in the early 90s (responsible for ‘The Mary Whitehouse Experience.’ I never saw it), but in the Baddiel and Skinner act he fulfils the role of the over-educated and sarcastic critic, although he couldn’t be described as curmudgeonly. It would be easy to hate the Baddiel one but I find many of his comments and tales funny.

          In order to be successful, both members of a comedy duo have to be very different. Morcambe had glasses, Ernie was short; Hale had stupid eyes, Pace was fat and had a moustache (or whichever way round they were). Skinner is a slim, camp Brummie who used to work in factory while Baddiel is a bearded, bespectacled Jewish Cambridge graduate who has never done a decent day’s work in his life.


          THE ROUTINE


          The discussions and events of each show are unscripted and largely up to the questions posed by the audience or according to what Baddiel or Skinner have been up to during the week, but there are a couple of fixed features in each show. Early in each ‘episode’ the duo will choose their secretary, an eager member of the audience who records the things they discuss on a board. The brief conversations with more interesting or unusual secretaries resulted in some of the most memorable parts of shows, even leading to a newspaper condemning the show for rigging some audience members. As they become fond of pointing out, it would be difficult to plan some of what goes on.

          Each show is ended with a musical number chosen at random by the audience from the songbooks. David plays the piano, prone to errors on a number of occasions, while Frank tries his best to sing, usually going over-the-top and keeping it amusing when it could easily be embarrassing to watch. The first series was shown completely live as it happened and this often resulted in the programme being over or under length: on one particular occasion the song was completed and the screen was filled with a © 2000 Avalon productions screen for three minutes while Frank and David rambled on with the audience in the background, although on most occasions the song was never given full time to be completed. This is undoubtedly part of the reason that the subsequent series were recorded a day prior to transmission for editing.


          THE MEMORY REMAINS


          It’s difficult to pin down specific gags or humorous moments as this is primarily a programme that provides a constant humorous atmosphere throughout without any notable scenes. As such I can only remember some recently seen examples:

          A discussion over turkey eggs and whether they exist. This was brought up in a number of shows and no one had any idea until one was eventually sent in as confirmation.

          Frank’s birthday presents. Frank’s birthday falls on two shows across the series: the first one sees David’s gift of Robert DeNiro’s papier-mache genital replica, while the second is a little more sarcastic and is based on colouring hair and removing age lines.

          The wonderful birthday joke. A discussion over pubic hair styling techniques in one of the birthday episodes inspires Baddiel’s wit to ask whether they are playing “call my m*ff.” Frank is very pleased with this joke; it is much better than the rubbish presents.

          The pair switch sides of the sofa. This wasn’t really a joke, but it did seem very strange seeing them on the opposite sides following a commercial break. They found it even more disconcerting though.


          VERDICT


          While not really a landmark in TV comedy history, this provided a nice mix of reality TV and improvised comedy and felt very friendly and relaxed; the running jokes and interaction with the audience also served to make it addictive while not having to rely on sexual tension to pull in viewing figures. (If they had it would likely have had the opposite effect: I for one would not be interested in the middle-aged funny men’s gay intercourse festival).

          The jokes are usually fairly crude and never sensational, although this wasn’t the point of the series. ‘Baddiel & Skinner Unplanned’ was fun to watch and is one of the most laid-back programmes I have ever seen, although consequently not one of the most interesting. Not so much compulsive viewing as a leisurely glance in the direction of the telly for half an hour. The show is still on its cycle on digital channel Paramount 2 and occasionally on ITV 2, although the duo has more recently featured in ‘Fantasy Football 2004’ which may or may not still be running. I don’t watch that.

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            30.07.2002 20:43
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            • "patterns emerge... "

            In short, i don't think there is much comparison between the two (or four as it were...), other than the obvious point that they were a comedy duo, and so are David & Frank. They have a very relaxed style of comedy. This helps. I went to see the stage version live at the Ambassadors in london, and there was really very little difference from the TV version. My advice to anyone would be watch it at least twice, you never know what's going to happen, that's the point. The only drawback is that future episodes are likely to be only edited highlights of what the live audience saw. Despite this, it's still worth your time, a laugh a minute guarenteed i think.

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              10.02.2001 08:44
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              Their own short description of this series says it all, and not much more explanation is needed as to the content of this program... Two blokes, one sofa, no script. David Baddiel and Frank Skinner are one of the funniest double acts to grace our screens for a long time. They're naturally funny, being able to laugh constantly at themselves as well as others. But I think it's Skinner's talent that carries this show so successfully. He's already proved himself a great comedian with his own chat show, and Baddiel brings his own style of comedy to the show, complimenting each other better than I would have expected. Simply put, they sit on a sofa in the middle of the stage and take questions from the audience...questions like "What's your favourite penny chew?" and "Have you ever had acupuncture?". Not the sort of content you'd expect, maybe, but they more than make the most of the subject matter given to them. On every program they elect a 'secretary' from the audience whose job it is to write down everything they talk about so they don't repeat themselves. The only subject that's banned is football, much to a lot of people's relief, including my own ;) The audience and secretary are all up for ridicule, though admittedly the secretary usually ends up being the centre of a lot of jokes... unfortunately for themselves, sometimes they do bring it on themselves, but then don't we all ;) The show ends with Baddiel at the piano and Skinner singing a song of the audience's choice from one of two books. I'm sure Skinner would be the first to admit he doesn't have a great voice, but I honestly don't think it matters. Even through the songs he manages to make you laugh, especially when he proceeds to give us impressions of the original singer of the song in question, like Louis Armstrong and "What A Wonderful World". It has to be seen to b
              e believed. Add to this Baddiel's obvious talent as a pianist, and you're on a winner! This is pure, natural entertainment from two very funny men. When you have talent like this, you really don't need more than that. I'm hoping this is going to be with us for a long time, it certainly deserves to be. And when it does come back to our screens, I'll be hoping for a much longer run.

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                06.02.2001 16:17
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                Well, who would have thought it, where else can you see two men, sat on a sofa, and do a half-hour show with no script? Well I didn’t, but this show really works, (probably something to do with a Brazilian and American haircut or the weird activities of some of the audience at work! (you would have to watch the show to know what this means). Each show Baddiel (the one with the beard) and Skinner (the more talented one) pick out a member of the audience to be a secretary who makes notes on everything mentioned in the show (so it’s not repeated) and any answers given by B & S from questions asked by the audience. So if you want to know why there are no turkey eggs on sale in shops, or listen to Skinner killing the song “Killing me Softly” then tune in. Although the theme tune is made up of people singing “it will never work”, it really does.

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                31.01.2001 03:10
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                Here's a novel idea for a comedy show. Two well-known and highly respected comedians risk their careers by sitting on a sofa for about half an hour, with a studio audience and well, having a chat. Completely unscripted, or so they tell us, these two blokes banter away in their own inevitable style and make the studio audience split their sides laughing. I have nearly fell off the sofa on a number of occassions, as the two chaps are just so, well, brilliant. When some of the topics arise, we were all thinking "it", but Skinner just has to say it with less tact than Mr. Tactless Mc Tactless of Tactsville. I have always been a fan of Baddiel since his "Mary Whitehouse Experience" Days (it was much funnier on the radio, you know!!)and he has gone from strength to strength with his quick witted comments. I'm not sure the two should be paid all that money for their shows, though, lets face it, all the show is is two blokes sitting on a settee!

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                29.01.2001 03:54
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                For any stand-up comedian, one of their worst nightmares must be going on stage and "dying" in front of the audiences due to things such as: - Being rubbish - Having poor material - Not having any material - Having to improvise Now, you would think that two experienced comedians such as Frank Skinner and David Baddiel wouldn’t really want to star in a live show where they have no material whatsoever and rely on answering questions from a lager fuelled audience. And you wouldn’t think that ITV would give it a first series, never mind a second one. So just what makes Baddiel and Skinner’s latest effort worth watching? After all, it is a simple concept - two comedians sitting on a big red sofa trying to make the audience laugh without having any prepared material or script. They try to muster up as much humour and wit as they can while talking about everyday topics. Each night they pick a secretary from the audience who has the unenviable job of writing down the topics that are talked about during the show. For a lot of secretaries, this is their only chance to appear on TV and they try to make the most of it by trying to be funny, smart and beat the lads at their own game. However, unfortunately most of them end up coming across as being arrogant, stupid or just a show-off. Baddiel and Skinner usually put them in their place and make them the butt of their jokes, much to the amusement of the rest of the audience. As I have said before, the purpose of having a secretary is to make a note of what was discussed. This is so that they do not discuss it in a future show. However, this is not always the case as show after show, there are references made to Jews (as Baddiel is Jewish) and their long running joke of this series is "The AIDS". They do not make fun of AIDS but just make fun of Frank who calls it "The AIDS" for no other reason other than he always ha
                s done. The show generally has a loose format comprising of: - Opening five minutes = having a general humorous chat - Pick a secretary - Questions from the audience - Advert break - More questions - Finish with a song They never seem to get a chance to finish the song as they usually spend too much time figuring out what it is and how to sing it and the credits start to roll. So we have yet to hear just how well Frank can sing while David murders a classic with "interesting" piano playing. But somehow the show is very funny. Each night I am absolutely howling with laughter at some of the things that they come out with. It is educational too (so I’ve heard) as I have discovered that a giraffe doesn’t have a voice box. Okay so it won’t help me get into Mensa but it might just be handy for the local pub quiz. So if you are a fan of David Baddiel or ITV’s current "Golden Boy" Frank Skinner (who got this prime time show weeks after his chat show finished) then it is well worth a look. It is currently showing on ITV at around 10:30pm most nights.

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                  23.01.2001 03:25
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                  David Baddiel and Frank Skinner must be two of the most innovative comedians we have in the UK at the moment. Their late night show on ITV – Baddiel and Skinner Unplanned – is a refreshing and different concept. This is now the second series, but it is still as fresh and entertaining as ever. It is a programme billed as “two blokes, one sofa, no script”. The two men simply sit and chat on a settee in the theatre, in front of a live audience, usually consisting of teenagers and twenty-somethings. They chat about things that have been happening in their lives or what’s in the news. So they can be discussing the man who won £500,000 on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire or what they have beendoing the night before. It is, as they say, unscripted, so it can sometimes be rather dull, but is often hilarious, and usually rather surreal! The audience have a chance to ask questions, and being live – and a large majority of the audience being apparently drunk and students, a dangerous combination at the best of times! – these are often very interesting, but rarely leave David and Frank speechless. Their witty retorts and put-downs to hecklers are an art in themselves. Each show, they choose a ‘victim’ from the audience, who takes on the role of a ‘secretary’ to take notes on the main points of the discussion. This invariably leads to a lot of good-humoured teasing and a host of strange, disjointed words written on a white board. Each programme ends with David playing the piano and Frank singing a quick song, which there is never enough of, as time always runs out and the credits roll. This recently led to a very brief but Travis-esque rendition of Britney’s classic ‘Baby One More Time’. These two men are not only hilariously funny, quick and witty, but they are also charming, modest and completely wonderful. This feels just like a night at
                  the pub with a couple of mates. At the start of the programme, the credits feature them and a host of extras singing “It’ll never work…” – but it does. Definitely.

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                    23.01.2001 02:13
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                    This is such a cheap and tacky programme, so why do I keep watching every single programme! David Baddiel (The Jew) and Frank Skinner (The Catholic) sit on a sofa in front of a live audience in a London TV studio and for half an hour talk about any subject they want. (The only exception is football; this subject has been banned by them). There is a continuos banter with the audience who raise questions for Baddiel and Skinner, or join in the discussions. The two comedians (?) have defined their own rules for the programme, the main one being that no subject can be discussed twice in a series. The help them keep track of the subjects discussed a “Secretary” is appointed from the audience for each programme. This person joins the pair on the stage and then is asked to write the subjects discussed on a white board. These boards are then displayed on subsequent programmes around the set. The role of the Secretary varies depending on the character of the person, sometimes with this person taking a very active part of the show, but often as the target for Baddiel’s and Skinner’s jokes. The programme is very funny and Baddiel and Skinner have a great rapport between them, that spreads to the audience who are quick to join in and give the pair plenty of opportunity to bounce jokes off (or at) the audience. Baddiel and Skinner first performed this routine at the Edinburgh festival and the transfer to television has worked really well. There is a lot of sexual innuendoes in the comments made and sometimes you get the feeling that the main objective of the pair is to see which female members of the audience will join them after the show. Although the format suggests that the programme is completely unplanned you do still get the feeling that there is a suggested list of topics that would be prompted should the pair ever “dry-up” in front of the live audience. But, most of the time it does
                    appear spontaneous and I certainly enjoy watching it. The end of each show is a song, chosen at random by the audience from two song books, sang by Frank Skinner and played by David Baddiel. A very corny way to finish the programme, but it works OK.

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