On the BBC website’s iPlayer, the synopsis for Only An Excuse reads…
“Scotland’s premier comedy team takes a look back at the highs and the lows of the year”
If they are the ‘premier’ team then we may as well shut down Scottish comedy production, pack up and go home.
Every Hogmanay for what seems like an eternity, the BBC commissions another episode of this utter garbage, and every year people write about just how unfunny it is.
Only an Excuse is supposed to be a comedy show about Scottish football, or football in the wider sense, and when it first started, it seemed culturally relevant. And to be fair, it was also funny once upon a time. Check out the 1998 show on YouTube for example.
But if you do check it out, you’ll notice that two of the recurring jokes are about Frank McAvennie – an ex footballer who retired in 1995 and stopped being culturally relevant or in the public eye on a national level in the 20th century – being a pervert and Charlie Nicholas mispronouncing words.
Every year since, that has remained the cornerstone of the show. The jokes haven’t changed, the delivery hasn’t changed and the recurring nature of them hasn’t changed. This year there was even a sketch with the two of them together on Countdown, and wouldn’t you know it, McAvennie was acting like a pervert and Nicholas was mispronouncing words. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Other than them, some of the other cutting edge football sketches included the likes of the retired Sir Alex Ferguson, Martin “I haven’t managed in Scottish football since 2005” O’Neill, Graeme Sounness, who left his job as Rangers manager in 1991 and a joke about Robbie Fowler’s cocaine sniffing goal celebration from April 3rd 1999.
The only two ‘new’ personalities on show were Celtic manager Ronnie Deila and current BBC Sportsound pundit, Pat Bonnar (who apparently speaks in a rhythmical, poetic structure if this sketch is to be believed. I’d never picked up on that before, had you?)
And the thing about it is that in both cases – and in the cases of pretty much every single ‘famous’ personality Watson does – they neither looked nor sounded like the person they were supposed to, and as a crutch, in his impression he had to name-drop who he was so that viewers had the slightest inkling. That’s not exactly the sign of a quality impressionist.
Apart from that, Watson had digs at other Scottish teams (a terrible Dundee derby sketch ended with him saying “Bring back the Old Firm” which I believe he meant with all his heart even though it was coming out
of Jim White’s mouth), did one about how Scottish football is skint (despite 2014 being a year in which most of the teams in Scotland finally dragged themselves out of the financial mire and into the black again) and didn’t touch his beloved Rangers with a barge-pole.
That’s right, despite Rangers in 2014 being the laughing-stock of world football and having hours worth of potential material from Ally McCoist’s tactical inability to the boardroom chaos to work with – the ultimate low hanging fruit – all we had of them was one sketch about the different Rangers fans groups. Unbelievable.
Apparently feeling that Scottish football didn’t have enough material to fill up an entire show with, Watson and his team of seventeen (yes, seventeen) writers decided that 21 of the 37 sketches should be about other stuff, including the Ice Bucket challenge, bowls, the Glasgow Lord Provost’s speech at the Commonwealth Games that most of us had forgotten, a series of Better Together influenced political digs, Ed Sheeran and for some reason, two sketches insinuating that Dundee is like a city from the 19th century.
And none of it was funny.
They had an entire year to come up with 30 minutes of humorous material and they couldn’t do it.
So who’s to blame?
Watson and his writers for churning out this crap, or BBC Scotland for commissioning it?
Ultimately it’s a bit of both.
Watson and his team write this shit, but where’s the motivation to actually try when it seems that no matter how bad it get, it’s given the green light year after year?
Because of when it’s on, Only an Excuse will always do well in the ratings and so someone at the BBC will probably think it’s popular. But they could exhume the corpse of Rikki Fulton and prop him up in a chair and it’d be both funnier and get more viewers.
There’s just no chance that this sort of thing would be deemed acceptable in England or on our screens at any other time of the year.
It’s garbage and it needs to end.
Surely Scotland can come up with something funnier than this?
Mind you…have you seen Limmy?