TV and Radio

TV review: Chuckles tinged with sadness

Barry and Paul Chuckle. Picture by Channel 5

Chuckle Time with the Chuckle Brothers

Channel 5. Sunday, 6:10pm

NEWS of Barry Chuckle's death was, to me, very sad - as I'm sure it was to you.

The veteran television and theatre entertainer, one half of comedy duo the Chuckle Brothers, died at the age of 73.

He had been filming a new series of Chuckle Time with the Chuckle Brothers for Channel 5.

But the star, whose real name is Barry Elliott, became unwell and his health deteriorated.

I honestly never watched an entire episode of ChuckleVision but was very much conversant with the concept.

Most gags, I have gleaned from online material in later years, involved a bucket of wallpaper paste and a pair of ladders culminating in some hilarious pratfall. The formula was tried, tested and trusted.

Away from our screens, Barry and his brother Paul had a huge cult following, simply because they were entertainingly daft.

They were prolific on Twitter, Paul posting amusing selfies, most recently with other stars including Sooty and Public Enemy.

Other TV appearances were downright hysterical. Asked during a Blue Peter Q&A who he would like to play him in a film about his life, Barry answered "Eddie Murphy".

It was with some surprise I learned, after Barry's death, that the double act had been involved in a TV comeback this year.

Chuckle Time consists of 12 hour-long, rib-tickling episodes and marks the brothers' first show since ChuckleVision ended in 2009 - after an amazing 21 series run.

The idea is pretty straightforward - the brothers introduce funny internet clips and also perform some classic sketches, naturally including their catchphrases "to me, to you" and "oh dear, oh dear".

The twist is while the Chuckle Brothers have spent the best part of 50 years falling over and making us laugh, they are instead watching other folk make fools of themselves.

It is essentially a modern You've Been Framed, featuring "fails, flops and funnies", with wisecrack commentary from Barry and Paul.

There's nothing as sidesplittingly hilarious as a nun on a hover board, right? Right? Or a montage of clips featuring young children injuring themselves on defective trampolines. That's pretty amusing, isn't it? Or a singing dog - that could carry the programme alone.

There were a few, I'm not ashamed to admit, laugh out loud moments listening to Barry's commentary when introducing a series of clips.

This included: "There's no better family entertainment than strapping a virtual reality headset on a relative and watching the ensuing chaos."

No better family entertainment, indeed. Such comments were often more chucklesome than many of the videos themselves.

Another highlight was Barry sharing the rules he lived his life by, which included "never try to hover board in flip flops".

There were also two separate digs at self-styled 'homestyle consultant' Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

In between clips, the brothers proved they could still perform the straight man and fall guy roles with great comic effect - Paul teeing up the joke and Barry crashing in with the punchline.

Barry's facial expressions, from deadpan to confused, remain amusing.

Ultimately, this family-friendly show had everything one might expect from a light-hearted home video compilation - canned laughter, slapstick, animals 'talking' into mobile phones, children being adorable/irritating (delete as appropriate) and show-offs coming dangerously close to maiming themselves on account of their contrived antics.

An emotional tribute to Barry was aired during the latest episode, so it was tinged with poignancy.

Silly stuff never really gets old. Barry was always the smaller and skinnier of the two, but suddenly appeared frail in appearance and voice.

The ageless brothers, still wearing 1990s shell tracksuit tops, had finally and noticeably aged.

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