The Armstrong & Miller Show

Having a go at Armstrong and Miller feels a bit wrong. They’re clearly very nice people and between them, both as a team and solo, have provided more laughs than sneers from this writer.

However, with that niceness comes an inevitable threat of being a little biege… and the first in the new series of The Armstrong and Miller Show (BBC One) went beyond biege and into a neutral grey.

And I feel awful for saying it.

See, the World War II txtspk pilots made a return and, as ever, were great. There isn’t a pair of comics that could pull it off like this duo do. It’s their middle-class Englishness away from their characters that somehow add to the skits.

Their fun is never at anyone’s expense either, which almost makes a refreshing change from the relentless cynicism of post-Noughties comedy.

Sadly, it’s this lack of edge that makes this show bumble dangerously close to Hale and Pace territory. In fact, so much so that, in their cut-aways to their little dance routines, I’ve started imagining that they’re doing it to The Stonk… and no-one needs reminding of the existence of that.

Sketches like The Blue Peter parody and the examination room ‘Eyes To The Front’ segment left me with an overwhelming feeling of nothingness. So bland was the humour that I felt like I’d gone back in time, to an age when sketch shows had become flabby and announced their punchlines with a flare in the sky.

That said, it wasn’t all bad. The Have You Had An Accident Whilst Reconstructing An Accident For A Claims Commercial bit was pretty fun and inventive to boot.

At the close of the show, sadly, it felt like I’d wasted half an hour. Shame, I like Armstrong and Miller… as people.

The two street-talking chav pilots are back discussing their self-esteem issues and a recent letter from home; Dennis Lincoln-Park, an accident-prone culture buff, examines an absolutely priceless Rembrandt drawing a little too close with his magnifying glass.

Contestants on a new series The Critical Factor are pushed to their very limits; Jilted Jim makes some new friends in Hawaii, despite his wife not being there – she ran off with the wedding DJ; Dr Tia continues saving lives and marveling at the dignity of “these people” in Botswana.

A reasonable boss interrupts his employee’s terrorist interrogation with an invitation to Pizza Express for a birthday treat; Divorced Dad is back with his teenage son, with graphic details of his sex life with his new girlfriend.

And when a rather suave guy buys a drink for a beautiful woman at a bar, the evening deteriorates dramatically when she catches sight of his pony-tail. And there’s more…

The chav pilots are saved from a firing squad by Biffy’s mother who tells them not to sh*t her about; Cheery children’s TV presenters make an apology to their viewers after drinking on a night out made them act in a “silly way”; The White Devil, a self-important ex-pat in Africa, roams the back roads and sets the record straight. Medical Genius? No. Miracle Worker? Sometimes. Lunatic? Now we’re getting close.

Things get rather confusing when actors suffer accidents while reconstructing an accident – where there’s blame there’s a claim; Dennis Lincoln-Park visits a library to hold an ancient, priceless manuscript, with disastrous consequences.

We learn about the origins of hairdressing from Neanderthals; Brabbins and Fyffe, the filthy alter-egos of Flanders and Swann, sing a jolly little song about women.

A first date starts to go wrong when stalker-like tendencies come to the surface; and a bored teacher performs some special moves at the back of the school gym while the children work on, oblivious. And there’s more…

After the resounding success of the first series, Ben Miller (Moving Wallpaper) and Alexander Armstrong (Mutual Friends) are back with their crack team of comedy writers and “script guru” Jeremy Dyson (League Of Gentlemen) for a second series on BBC One.

With their usual mix of the beautifully observed and completely barmy, expect returning favourites plus a raft of brand new characters. Among them are The White Devil, a self-important ex-pat in Africa – roaming the back roads, saving lives and fixing his hair in the wing mirror of his 4×4; Jilted Jim, dumped at the altar but still on his honeymoon, turning the lives of other newly-weds into a living hell; Dennis Lincoln-Park, an accident-prone culture buff, searching for the most valuable art works in the history of civilisation; and the Old Clubber, a forty-something, mad-for-it Ibiza veteran/company accountant.

Armstrong & Miller are joined by a stellar supporting cast including David Armand (How Not To Live Your Life), Jim Howick (The Kevin Bishop Show), Lucy Montgomery (TIttybangbang) and Martha Howe-Douglas (Doctors).

The director is Dominic Brigstocke, the producer is Caroline Norris and the executive producers are Helen Williams, Mario Stylianides and Simon Wilson, Executive Editor, BBC Comedy.

A Toff Media / Hat Trick production for BBC One.

Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong reunited for BBC One

Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong, reunited after a seven year sabbatical in hit comedy shows such as The Worst Week Of My Life (Miller), and Life Begins (Armstrong), return to the small screen this October with their own particular brand of sketch comedy in The Armstrong & Miller Show.

Jeremy Dyson, from The League of Gentlemen, joins them as their script guru, bringing together what must be anybody’s fantasy sketch team.

Expect a spanking new line-up of characters, among them Brabbins and Fyffe, the filthy alter-egos of Flanders and Swann; the divorced dad, who gives his son brutally honest answers to innocent questions; the inappropriate dentist, who regales his captive audience with tales of swinger parties and the state of his pet dog’s prostate; and Tony and Dimitri, a hapless football manager and his Russian oligarch boss.

Wince at the near-the-knuckle instructions of a politically incorrect sat nav, and marvel at the very existence of Pru and Miranda, two fat ladies with the difference that they can’t either cook or run Dandy Lion’s, their brain-meltingly inefficient vegetarian restaurant in Hampstead.

Add to that nearly a hundred other characters and Armstrong and Miller’s exquisite nose for the absurd and you have a show that will thrill their loyal audience from Channel 4 and win over a whole new generation of fans on BBC One.

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