Culture House Daily

Review: The Michael McIntyre Chat Show, BBC One

11 March 2014

I was just thinking how strange it was that Michael McIntyre had morphed into Lang Lang, the ebullient Chinese pianist – the floppy jet-black hair, the chipolata-like body, the plump Jackie Chan cheeks – when he read my mind and agreed. Well, more or less. Introducing his brand new chat show with a burst of pre-emptive self-mockery, he flashed up images showing how remarkably similar he looks to the Chinese man you see when you download Skype, or the ruler of North Korea (not sure which one, but they’re all related).

One way or another everything in McIntyre’s new show was all about McIntyre. But what did you expect? There are two ways to run a chat show. The first one is to get your guests to talk at length, and hope that while doing so they might run beyond their carefully prepared set of approved anecdotes and let slip something they’d have preferred not to. This method has largely gone out of fashion, so McIntyre inevitably ended up with method two: keep raving hysterically about yourself while intermittently reminding your guests how magnificent and legendary they are. That way, nobody need fear defenestration from their precious showbiz bubble.

The fact that we had nearly 15 minutes of McIntyre’s solo warm-up made it quite clear that the guests were of strictly secondary importance, and their carefully rationed slots ensured that their ‘chat’ consisted of little more than agreeing with the host that they were indeed marvellous. ‘You’re a legend!’ sobbed McIntyre as Terry Wogan, the very first guest on his very first show, ambled from the wings wearing that familiar ‘do I really get paid for this?’ expression. It was curious how the audience greeted this comfy old entertainer with rapturous shrieking and applause which would have been more appropriate for the second coming of The Beatles, or Burton and Taylor in their heyday.

Lily Allen talks to Michael McIntyre. Photo: BBC/Hat Trick

Lily Allen talks to Michael McIntyre. Photo: BBC/Hat Trick

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Lily Allen has a reputation for outspoken bolshiness, but in the teeth of McIntyre’s gale of powder-puff hilarity and apoplectic arm-waving she became rather coy and docile. Then she found herself comprehensively upstaged when McIntyre cunningly lured her into the Battle of the Australian Accents, McIntyre’s being not only far superior but also a useful pretext for him to brag about his recent tour Down Under.

That only left Lord Sugar, who skilfully refused to be drawn outside his brutally deadpan comfort zone. He told rather a good story about having tea with the Queen, who delivered a brief lecture about football tactics. McIntyre just kept burbling on regardless: ‘I’m a huge fan of The Apprentice… I want to show this clip of you cos it’s just hysterical… Please join me in thanking the wonderful Lord Sugar!’

Not that McIntyre isn’t funny; he’s super-fast with a comeback, and he does a good gag where he steals an audience member’s phone and sends embarrassing texts to all their contacts. It’s just that this isn’t a chat show (yet).

Adam Sweeting is a documentary film-maker, critic and TV editor for

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Show comments
  • justejudexultionis

    Could there be any greater symbol of the decline of western civilisation than the smug pudgy faced purveyor of bland idiocy known as Michael McIntyre?

    • Daniel Maris

      You’ve obviously never watched daytime TV.

  • tjamesjones

    It was quite watchable telly, ie you enjoyed it and so did I, which means that it might last long enough for MM to find his feet as an interviewer.

    • James Strong

      How long does it take to find one’s feet as an interviewer?
      McIntyre has already conquered the nerves of being on camera. After that it’s only a matter of a bit of research and a conversation based on genuine interest and some empathy.
      It’s what many of us do a number of times a day. There’s no need to be a celeb to do it.

  • Bert3000

    Do people think they’re immortal? How can anyone who knows that a human lifetime is of limited duration possibly think they have time to watch stuff like this?

  • Frank

    Heavens, that is a pretty good hand-bagging!
    My take is that BBC 1 is so bereft of ideas (despite their huge salaries) that they have returned to calpol telly.

  • Daniel Maris

    Very good review.

    McIntyre is a genuinely funny, comedically insightful guy but was never going to be a great chat show host.

    The genuine interview is as the review suggests long gone. Parkinson may have been tiresome at times, but you did feel sometimes you got to know a bit about a well known personality, beyond the fact that they are “well known”.

  • Cpanda

    Totally agree with this review, the guests were talked over and given little chance to speak. I think McIntyre played to the audience far too much, probably because that’s what he knows best. Rather than finding out more about what Terry Wogan, Lily Allen or Alan Sugar are doing these days, McIntyre played clips and giggled the whole way through. I hope he improves his interviewing, because I think there is a gap in the market for a more insightful chat show format (like Parkinson).

    • James Strong

      For chat show guests, ‘what they are doing these days’ is nearly always promoting a book or film.
      McIntyre’s pre-selected clip of Lord Sugar is part of the technique of guiding the ‘chat’ and the chat is indeed usually structured to show how wonderful both the guest and the host are.
      Memory fades, but I seem to remember Parkinson getting more out of guests with a lot less short-term promotion of books and films.
      Unless there is a telegenic actress like Julianne Moore, Cameron Diaz or Sandra Bullock as a guest then most chat shows are rubbish. And even then you wouldn’t watch for the quality of the chat.

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