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You Gotta Be Jokin’!

GHASTLY ATTEMPT to introduce family comedy to a peaktime Saturday audience mainly through the imposition of SHANE RICHIE wearing striped dungarees and telling jokes about MPs tucking their shirts into their underpants. Richie was joined by watered-down adult comic BILLY PEARCE, as both his camp gagteller and as the pointless Panto Man, and future XYZ host GEORGE MARSHALL for the bleakest impressions routines (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Clive Anderson). Better fare came from the two women involved, mimic singer MADDI CRYER (whose take on Karen Carpenter needed to be heard to be believed) and ANNETTE LAW, impersonator of Penelope Keith and, er, other people. Episodes began with each cast member sliding down a fireman’s pole to tell a reassuringly clean joke (“What do you call a fight in an Indian restaurant? An onion argy-bhaji!”) or deliver a useless bon mot (“I went to see my optician yesterday – what a waste of time. If you can see your optician, you don’t need to see your optician…”). Then, aside from the dodgy stand-up, we got juvenile, punchlineless sketches and songs (“we don’t mind personal stereos and we don’t mind if you smoke!”) plus sub-NTNO’CN news bulletins (Marshall as Trevor McDonald, Law as Anna Ford) and the forgettable synopsis sumups entitled “Ten Second Cinema Presents…”. Dated for its time although anyone who had seen Pearce’s immense live show knew straightaway he did it purely for money and exposure. Ended each show with a celebrity (JASON DONOVAN, JAMES WHALE) saying “You gotta be jokin’!” in a totally unironic manner. Richie’s performances and apparent status as unofficial “leader” (always first down the pole, first to do his stand-up, first on the credits), got him CAUGHT IN THE ACT and trapped us all, although the striped dungarees were chucked out.



  1. David Pascoe

    May 21, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Annette Law’s “Penelope Keith sings UB40” was a rare highlight of this series.

  2. itsyeredmonds

    May 21, 2010 at 5:33 pm

    What happened to Annette Law anyway? Don’t think I ever saw her before or since this.

  3. Applemask

    May 23, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    Be wary of any show that includes the colloquial enn-apostrophe ending to “ing” words.

  4. paulus

    May 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Absolute Shite!

  5. germfreecat

    August 20, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    As much fun as a gumboil

  6. Richard16378

    August 22, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    It’s sounds like I dodged a bullet by somehow missing this.

    The BBC’s LE Dept had a few clunkers around this time, the aforementioned Caught In The Act, along with Joker In The Pack & The Lisa Maxwell Show.

    • Tom Ronson

      March 7, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      Lisa Maxwell later redeemed herself by playing Lily Lineker in the best episode of Bottom (FACT).

  7. Droogie

    August 23, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Another godawful BBC saturday evening comedy show from back then was Something For The Weekend. A ropey sketch show with the likes of Mike Doyle and Susie Blake in the cast.

    • Tom Ronson

      May 8, 2021 at 10:17 pm

      Billy Pearce is probably most recognisable to audiences now for the oft-repeated clip of Spike Milligan at the British Comedy Awards calling Prince Charles a ‘little grovelling bastard’, and yer man’s there in the audience laughing his head off.
      You Gotta Be Jokin’ was the last roll of the dice for a sketch comedy series that began in 1989 as Something for the Weekend. Susie Blake (of Victoria Wood As Seen On TV fame) was the nominal star. It returned in 1990 as Up to Something with only Mike Hayley remaining from the original cast, but the format was much the same. You Gotta Be Jokin’ duly followed in 1991, the same year the BBC had a bit of a clear-out of its light entertainment schedules, with Russ Abbbot and Little and Large notable casualties.

  8. Richardpd

    May 9, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    I remember Something for the Weekend & Something for the Weekend being OK if not brilliant, David Schneider was in the latter’s line-up before going on to better things.

    By 1991 Harry Enfield as showing how to do a sketch show for the 1990s so the clearout was inevitable.

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