Review: Horne & Corden 1×1

Bad. Oh so bad. What a shame.

In the UK: Tuesdays, 10.30pm, BBC3

I did have a premonition this was going to happen. Ages ago (2007, I think), I caught an episode of Big Brother’s Big Mouth hosted by James Corden and Matthew Horne. It was appalling. Absolutely appalling. I tried to forget it altogether.

So when Gavin & Stacey came around, I had no recollection of having seen either of the two before. It was only when reading about their new BBC3 sketch show, Horne & Corden, and their BBBM gig got mentioned, that it all came flooding back in its horrible glory.

"Oh no. Please don’t let it be like that," I prayed. "Gavin & Stacey was brilliant. Surely they’ve learned and moved on. Surely it’ll be funny."

No. It really wasn’t. In fact, it was so unfunny and joke-free, lovely wife actually fell asleep in the middle of it.

Not a good sign.

It didn’t take us long before we noticed that this wasn’t a fun show. After all, it started with James Corden running around a Saturday Night Live-esque set in a fit of incredible self-congratulation that left something of a bad taste in the mouth.

After a good few minutes of that, it was off to the sketches. Now, Corden and Horne are both really excellent actors. They really are, and they shifted between characters with great skill. Corden’s Ricky Gervais impression was absolutely stunning.

The problem was the scripts. Oh so bad. Just very, very unfunny. A couple raised a smile and I think I laughed once, but they were all very obvious, lacked originality – a Superman and Spiderman sketch? Didn’t Kenny Everett extract every possible bit of humour out of them in the 70s and 80s? – and often had no point whatsoever other than to give Corden and Horne a chance to mess around a bit and get their kit off a lot.

And it was like that for half an hour. Half an hour of the only joke in a sketch being that a war correspondent is a bit camp; that James Corden is a bit overweight; that you can stick Corden and Horne in a perfume ad and it won’t be quite as artistic and sexy as the real thing; that schoolboys tend to draw similarly styled pictures of cocks on things; and so on.

If watching two guys obviously having fun is your thing, even if you’re aren’t, then Horne & Corden is the show for you. But if you actually want jokes or at least comedic writing, then you’re going to have to avoid this like the plague. Is it simply the case that Corden needs Ruth Jones’s writing skills to complement his? I don’t know. But avoid it like the plague unless you fancy a good night’s sleep.

Here’s something that might well be James Corden and Matt Horne on location for their sketch show. Or it might not. Aren’t corporate firewalls a pain in the arse?