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Double Take
cast: Mary Reynolds, David Brent Mendenhall, Julian Curry, Ronnie Beharry, and Sarah Davies

creator: Alison Jackson

72 minutes (15) 2002
Carlton / Prism Leisure DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Jonathan McCalmont
Rooted in the photographic work of Alison Jackson, this series of sketches uses grainy video footage of celebrity look-a-likes to create the impression that we are seeing real hidden camera footage of celebrities out of the public eye. The twist is that the activities of the celebrities are either so drastically at odds with their public persona that they are funny or they outlandishly exemplify how we perceive these people as being. For example, we have footage of Prince William firing an airgun at Camilla Parker-Bowles and we have Tony Blair in an American military uniform.

The problem with this series is that as a piece of art, Jackson's idea exists solely in that fraction of a second between seeing an unusual picture of the Queen and realising that it's a fake. Jackson has chosen to not only expand this fleeting moment to a whole television programme but to an entire series. In order to make the expansion work, the series uses a total of 12 different comedy writers and the results are shockingly bad. I watched the DVD and failed to laugh a single time.

The problem with the comedy is two-fold. Firstly, this is arguably some of the worst satire you will ever see anywhere. The sum total of Double Take's comedy is David Beckham sitting on the lavatory (LOL!), the Queen taking her clothes off (ROFL!) and Tony Blair being George Bush's lackey (LMAO!). Don't look here for any intelligent analysis let alone insightful jokes but ooh look... Sven is adjusting his balls in a lift. The second problem is that the writers don't just make these weak jokes once; they make them again and again and again. This DVD is not even the collected series, it's a 70-minute compilation of the series' best moments and if these are the best moments then the thought of the rest of the material simply chills my blood. This is lazy, cretinous writing that produces TV comedy at its absolute unblinking worse. The fact that this stems from the work of a so-called artist makes its endless stupidity and witlessness even harder to stomach as it lends this schlock a veneer of intellectual respectability it is utterly undeserving of. Jackson's name appears in the credits with this little 'AJ' logo and the behind the scenes featurette reveals her to be a horribly smug woman, utterly convinced of her own genius. Clearly, she's not the only one as this turgid unimaginative pap won a BAFTA in 2002 and was nominated for a best comedy BAFTA in 2004. I'm not sure how this happened but if I were David Icke I'd see the fingerprints of giant lizards all over this.

This is utter drivel and, given that it is retailing at close to the price of a proper comedy DVD, it is expensive drivel. Don't buy it and if someone gives it to you for Christmas burn it for your own protection.

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