Tucked away in a relatively quiet 10:35pm time slot, stand-up Michael McIntyre made his chat show debut on BBC1 last night. It’s a format that could do with a new face to offer an alternative to the traditional triumvirate of Jonathan Ross, Graham Norton and Alan Carr; and though other have failed to make a lasting impression (including one of McIntyre’s guests, Lilly Allen), there are signs in this still-rough-around-the-edges debut that Mr McIntyre may well be our man.
He could do with a better set designer, though. The navy blue cityscape and dark wood furnishings look a lot like an uninspired rip-off of The Jonathan Ross Show. Even his bland dark suit seems to have been stolen from a modern Wossy’s wardrobe.
But while the surroundings lack originality, McIntyre brings a unique personality to proceedings. I expected his foppish-excitability shtick to be at odds with the calm, steady demeanour usually required of a host, but McIntyre’s childish scamper around the stage to reveal the production secrets behind his showbiz entrance (it involves a man with a pole) added a refreshing sense of fun to proceedings. The funniest moments were of course found in his interactions with the audience (something which makes up a large portion of the show). One plucky member was picked out to play “send to all”, a game that provided a regular source of laughs throughout the show.
Yet, it’s because of his bubbly personality that McIntyre seems to struggle as an interviewer. A bold line-up of Terry Wogan, Alan Sugar and Lilly Allen offered easy opportunities for entertaining anecdotes, but aside from a well-researched montage of Wogan’s hosting days and the knowledge that Lilly Allen is apparently big in Australia, McIntyre failed to extract anything of note from his guests. I think this is because, as a stand-up, McIntyre is so used to holding the stage alone that he doesn’t know when to step back, often happily chattering away instead of letting his guests talk. Maybe he needs to take Terry Wogan’s advice and blend into the background a bit more.
All in all, this was a positive, if slightly rough, first outing for McIntyre as a chat show host. McIntyre showed he’s got the personality to carve a niche for himself in a difficult format and is, based on the evidence of this show at least, capable of attracting a high calibre of guest. If only he’d take Wogan’s advice and shut-up every now and then…
Click here to watch the first episode of The Michael McIntyre Chat Show on BBC iPlayer