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TV review: Inbetweeners reunion was as naff as a teenage disco

The Inbetweeners: Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison), Jay Cartwright (James Buckley) and Simon Coooper (Joe Thomas)
Billy Foley

The Inbetweeners: Fwends Reunite, New Year's Day, Channel 4 at 9pm

It's that time of year when the broadcasters are desperate to fill their open schedules with something viewer catching.

Channel 4 chose New Year's Day, when many are keen for a bit of TV relief after the exertions of the holiday period, for a two-hour special to mark the 10th anniversary of the first showing of The Inbetweeners.

In fairness, it's worth the honour; The Inbetweeners sits alongside Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers and Blackadder as one of the great sitcoms.

It tells the story of the cringe-inducing experiences of four teenage boys as they discover sex, girls, alcohol and male bonding in their final school year.

It made stars of the actors, all of whom were in their twenties during the filming, and gave life to some of the most memorable TV catchphrases.

In essence though, The Inbetweeners was about spectacular and humiliating sexual failure so it was appropriate that the tribute show was such a disaster.

Even the stars looked embarrassed to be there.

It was presented by Jimmy Carr who was sensible enough to admit halfway through that he is good at one-liners but “sh*t” at interviews.

James Buckley, who played Jay, felt the need to tweet an apology afterwards.

“I'm sorry to anyone who feels let down with last night's show. I'm especially upset as it really is the fans that made the inbetweeners a success,” he wrote.

The Channel 4 concept was fairly straightforward. Get the four stars together on stage and invite the rest of the cast to sit in the audience and reminisce about the filming.

Carr was to chat to James, along with co-stars Simon Bird, Blake Harrison and Joe Thomas, about how they had other jobs when the first series aired and other oddities, while linking to some of the classic clips from the three series and two films.

The producers obviously felt that was insufficient to fill two hours so they invented an awards ceremony (brief appearance for Derry Girls as award givers) and invited along ‘superfans' and ‘lookalikes.'

While it was meant to be a bit of fun, it came across as toe-curling and the stars became increasingly uncomfortable on stage.

The nadir was when Carr pulled up at the table of some of the on-screen love interests and asked them to rate the four actors on a ruder version of ‘snog, marry, avoid.'

They were so appalled that we heard one answer and the rest were rather crudely edited out.

Still, the two-hour disaster was followed by three back-to-back episodes so all was well with the world in the end.

***

Jane McDonald, New Year's Eve, Five from 8pm

Who knew that Jane McDonald was such a star that we needed a Five special to bring in 2019?

Just like Channel 4, Five had a schedule to fill, but a whole night about a former cruise ship singer might have been a bit too much for some.

This included three episode of her travel show, Cruising with Jane McDonald; a sing along with Jane McDonald and Friends; Jane McDonald: My Life Story brought us towards midnight before we returned for another 20 minutes of Jane McDonald and Friends to ring in the new year.

***

Jools' Annual Hootenanny, New Year's Eve, BBC 2, 11.15pm

Jools Holland presented the 26th edition (can it be?) of his New Year's celebration with Michael Buble as the star guest.

There were also performances from Jess Glynne, Nile Rodgers, George Ezra and Marc Almond.

It wasn't the worst way to bring in 2019, but it's all getting a bit stale and it wasn't helped by an incongruous and terrible Donald Trump impersonator.

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