Last Night’s TV – Cowards


I’m totally at a loss as to why this show is on the air. How best to describe it? Was it A) comedy? Was it B) ‘dark’ humour? Was it C) absolute dross? Well, I’m not going to have to phone a friend and I suspect I won’t even need to ask the audience – given that I was a member of the audience – I’m going to go with C) Chris, final answer.

Here’s what the BBC had to say about this show…

“Cowards is a new 4-man sketch show packed with surprise and invention.

“Scenarios include disaffected judges, office bullying via Skype, Russian roulette at the dinner table, a jobseeker aiming to become Mick Hucknall’s PA and a dog with a secret – all delivered with the unique Cowards brand of joyful deadpan absurdity…

“The team of Tom Basden, Stefan Golaszewski, Tim Key and Lloyd Woolf have honed their voice over two acclaimed Edinburgh Festival shows, a returning series on Radio 4 and the first online sketch show for BBC3. Their highly-accomplished TV debut is a thrilling new arrival in the comedy landscape.”

Erm, are they talking about the same show I watched last night? Worryingly, yes, they are. It’s worrying because there was nothing thrilling or even comedic about it. One ‘sketch’ was absolutely gross in a very unfunny way; the above mentioned Russian Roulette sketch in which one member of the dinner party blew his brains out all over another dinner guest.

Before that there was an animation accompanied by a song about Richard Madeley and again, it couldn’t have been less amusing if it tried.

In fact, the only marginally amusing scenes were near the end when we saw the four main cast members sharing a caravan and a sketch in which a man had supposedly been turned into a terrier. However, none, but none of it was laugh out loud stuff, and at best, it was smile-a-bit inducing.

Whoever is in charge of comedy at the BBC really needs to be relieved of their post and someone with an actual sense of humour should be appointed. Several new shows that are billed as “comedy” on the BBC at the moment could well be breaching the Trade’s Descriptions Act, and Cowards is one of them.

If you missed it and want to judge for yourself how bad it was, you can see it here on BBC iPlayer. At least the incontinent amongst us need not fear any embarrassing laughter related incidents…

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.