Review: Time Trumpet

Time Trumpet

In the UK: Thursdays, BBC2, 10pm

I had high-ish hopes for this. It comes from the House of Armando Iannucci for one thing. It satirises modern news and televisual trends by pretending to look back on them from the perspective of 2031. It could have been The Day Today of our day.

But it wasn’t. It was kind of funny. It was clever. It made you wonder just how much time they’d spent trawling through the archives for clips they could doctor with CGI. But it wasn’t the side-splittingly funny show I was hoping for.

There were elements from plenty of Iannucci’s previous projects: the retrospective from the future by old people was a frequent part of The Armando Iannucci Show; the doctored footage will be familiar to anyone who’s visited Iannucci’s and Chris Morris’s Smokehammer; and the nonsense surreal news that he invents for the near future is very The Day Today and Saturday Night Armistice.

But while the Brown and Blair fights, waterlogged Leeds and Charlotte Church vomiting herself inside out were classic Iannucci with Morris overtones, they were a little too detached and clinical to be funny. It was like being given a series of clever palindromes.

The times when the show came alive was when real people were involved. I’m not talking just about Stewart Lee, Richard Ayoade and the like sending up the talking heads retrospective shows of today. Even Ayoade managed to be amusing and Lee was on form as usual. There was also a silly parody of The Dragons’ Den starring the dragons themselves that despite being the lowest brow moment of the show, was actually probably the funniest.

While Iannucci’s instincts appear to be more about clever ideas than actual jokes, when he goes against his instincts, he’s actually a whole lot funnier. When shed of the deadpan narration, Time Trumpet was a great show to watch. But although I hate to use the expression, it was perhaps “too clever by half”.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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