BBC1's The Big Night In was slow to get going, but eventually gave you a warm feeling of togetherness
It’s becoming increasingly difficult for our television broadcasters to find shows to fill their schedules, as the coronavirus shuts down productions across the globe.
Fortunately, in one way, technology has advanced so far that celebrities can literally – and metaphorically, in the case of a Little Britain sketch – phone in their performances from their living rooms, as in The Big Night In (BBC1, Friday, 7pm).
A telethon billed as a mix of Children in Need and Comic Relief, it followed the appropriately socially distanced template of sketches and songs, interspersed with tear-jerking stories of real people, all raising money for various good causes.
The stilted start to the show – from a weirdly underpopulated One Show set – made you wonder if this was the kind of thing we need right now. These ‘unprecedented times’, with furloughing, homeschooling and rising death rates, are bad enough, without being reminded how bad they could be – and some of these VTs were really difficult to watch.
However, by the end, it had won you over, and started to warm the heart.
The sketches were uneven, but star turns came from all the surviving Doctor Whos (Doctors Who?) sending a message to Earth’s real-life health workers and Catherine Tate as ‘bovvered’ teen Lauren in a Zoom chat with ‘teacher’ David Tennant – “Being Scottish is not an underlying health problem”.
The BBC has performed a vital role in the past few weeks, informing, entertaining and educating the nation, and you feel only the BBC could have pulled something like this together. Aside from the thrill of seeing inside celebrity houses – Matt Smith lives in a crypt, who knew? – this also pulled the country together.
Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins (Channel 4, Mon, 9pm) does what many of us would want to – push Joey Essex off a cliff. Fortunately, he’s attached to a rope, and is well suited to army life – unlike Katie Price.
I can’t make my mind up about Devs (BBC2, Weds/Thurs, 9pm). It’s slow, but not ponderous, and it’s thoughtful, but not pretentious. I’m almost through it on iPlayer, which must mean it’s pretty good.