The Matt Lucas Awards Review – Lucas shines with David Arnold, Jason Manford, Graeme Garden, Henning Wehn and his mum!

by Matt D

For Matt Lucas’ first solo television project he claims that he wanted to do something that didn’t involve him getting into costume or wearing make-up, however by the end of episode one he and his guests are all wearing costumes. Apart from the costumes though and the appearance from Paul Putner, appearing here as Morph, The Matt Lucas Awards is much more of a traditional show than Little Britain.

The set for the show is almost like that of a front room that you might see on any sitcom, with Lucas welcoming his mother onto the programme who spends most of her time in the kitchen and only occasionally contributes to proceedings. There are chat-show elements as well as Matt’s guests often offer up anecdotes from their past and there are witty musical interludes performed by James Bond composer David Arnold. But first and foremost The Matt Lucas Awards is a panel show, as it originally started as a Radio 2 show called And The Winner Is which was also hosted by Lucas. The format of the show sees Lucas offer up categories for which the guests, then have to present one nomination each with the host finally picking a winner after hearing their suggestions.

The first round was rather a dry affair with Smuggest Nation of People being offered as a category. The nominations were the Swedes from Jason Manford, the English from Scottish-born Goodie Graeme Garden and the Chinese from the radio panel show’s favourite German comic Henning Wehn. After some very witty interplay from Lucas and the guests it was the Chinese that were given the award from Lucas so once that first round had finished I was thinking this was just a reverse Room 101. Then all of a sudden it became Watercolour Challenge with the three guests all tasked with sketching a life model, in this case a naked old man, so Lucas could find out who was the Most Artistic Guest. Wehn and Manford both played it for laughs, with the former drawing a very technical outline of the man’s face while the latter claimed he was quite low down so just drew the stool with the man’s legs dangling over it, so it was Garden who won this award for taking things very seriously. The talent show continued with all three men then asked to sing their nominations for Dreadfulest Football Song which is where the costumes came out with this round being best highlighted by Wehn and Lucas dressed up as two members of The Village People shouting their way through the song that the disco group performed with the 1994 German Football Team.

Hopefully from these descriptions you can tell that the Matt Lucas Awards was certainly a mesh of different formats, which didn’t always hold together for me. What made it work was the personalities involved, especially Lucas who is a charming host and who clearly loves being in charge of a show like this. Lucas’ mum Diana also adds a homely feel to the programme, if that’s what you’re after in a comedy show, with her best parts in this episode coming via her impressions of various Top of The Pops hosts introducing the football songs. The guests were for the most part quite game themselves however Garden looked out of his depth and didn’t get into the show as whole-heartedly as his fellow panellists. The best parts of the show came from the downbeat David Arnold, whose interplay with Lucas always yielded a laugh especially during the drawing round where Arnold held his pad up to reveal he had written Red Rum and when quizzed by Lucas why he’d drawn that he said that he couldn’t remember doing it. Overall though this show made me smile and occasionally chuckle rather than laugh-out-loud so if you’re looking for some deep belly-laughs then you’ll be disappointed. However this is a charming oddity which works thanks to the conviction of those involved and therefore I’m a little perplexed to see that the BBC have scheduled it at 10:35pm on a weeknight.

Let me know what you think of The Matt Lucas Awards when it airs later on tonight by leaving a comment below.