It’s Kevin – Review

Can Kevin Eldon’s new BBC Two show bring sketchy back?

Long-term comedy performer and actor Kevin Eldon finally gets a solo spotlight in BBC2’s It’s Kevin, after a long career in supporting roles. Already beloved by his comedy peers, could this be the project that catapults Eldon into the public spotlight too?

Well, based on the pre-broadcast hype in the media (social and otherwise), a lot of people hope so. He’s got a huge array of known names to appear across the run, including Stewart Lee, Bill Bailey, Justin Edwards and Liza Tarbuck – and those are just the early weeks. So, we’ve seen the first two episodes, does it live up to that pedigree? But first, here’s the first episode’s excellent intro…

Replace Regular Characters With Sofa

As TV comedy becomes increasingly dominated by sitcoms with embarrassing predicaments instead of jokes, we’re probably overdue a return of the silly sketch show. It’s Kevin doesn’t disappoint, throwing oddity at the screen without pausing for breath. Thankfully, with a couple of exceptions, he steers clear of relying on “regular” characters or catchphrases so far. (I admit, I wasn’t a fan of The Fast Show.)

I’m not saying every sketch worked for me personally, but his range is so broad and most of the material so brief that if you don’t like one scene, there’s something else along in a minute. And I also enjoy his decision to link the show together from a red sofa against a white background, rather than simply cutting the sketches together. It’s like a surreal version of Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle.

Kevin Eldon’s Sketch Vehicle?

Hell, the success of that show might have paved the way for It’s Kevin, but I’m glad he’s playing around with the one-man showcase format, rather than letting some terrifiying producer voice tell him he has to simply stand there, because it worked for Lee. But no, there’s all sorts of subversions at work. If your comedy taste involves pure random silliness, this could well be the series for you.

To be honest, I’d be pleased It’s Kevin existed even if the show itself didn’t work, simply because it’s nice to see something distinct from the standard comedy groupings that seem to have emerged: sitcom, panel game, stand-up show. And, y’know, it’s not as if sketch shows haven’t existed before, or even don’t exist now (yes, I’ve heard of Cardinal Burns and Hunderby, even if I haven’t yet seen them), but they’ve become so rare that the format still feels fresh, and It’s Kevin has a very high hit rate. Give it a go, just to see something different and interesting.

It’s Kevin airs Sundays at 10:30PM on BBC Two. See the official BBC site here, which does include a few clips of sample sketches, and see episodes available on iPlayer also. I’d play the Portugese horrible lottery.

Nick Bryan

Updated: Mar 25, 2013

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