Okay, so, I didn’t have many positive things to say about the opening episode of Bill Bailey’s new vehicle. I didn’t like the format, I didn’t know the celebrities, and to be honest, I didn’t really see the point.
So there was one pressing question hovering this week: was it going to get any better?
“It’s gonna get dangerous,” Bill said, leaving me wondering whether he meant it was going to get ‘dangerously close to being entertaining this time’.
The team captains were the same.At least I recognised them. They were joined by Sherrie Hewson (er…nope) and – ah! – Joe Pasquale! Well, I knew him, but he said he knew nothing about birdwatching and was there because he needed the money and exposure. Except, he didn’t put that last bit into words.
First task was catching some birds. There was an instant argument over how it should be done, creating the same vapid kind of intensity you get on Big Brother. Joe got a spider on his glasses. Alex told Sherrie it looked like she was giving birth to a net. They caught a dunnock and Sherrie slapped Alex in the face. Ah, wot larx.
And then suddenly there was a car chase and loads of explosions and a Code Red! But it turned out to be a trailer for the new series of 24.
Back to the actual programme, there was some excitement when Joe Pasquale caught a warbler to equalise the score against Alex. Desperate to move ahead, Alex and Sherrie started ‘pshhing’ to attract birds, but it didn’t help as Joe and Jeff caught a chaffinch.
“How long will we be sitting here?” asked Sherrie. “Hours,” said Alex. Oh, God, please, no, I thought. And then Bill came along and ended the round.
Next up was to a write a poem. (I’m not making this up. I’m not.)
And then suddenly there was light and movement and amazing swirls of light! But it turned out to be an advert for the Ford Focus.
Back to the actual programme, there was some excitement when Bill dressed up as a soldier, kind of, to teach the concept of G.I.S.S. (General Impression Size and Shape). Except it’s pronounced ‘jizz’, which is hilarious. Alex and Sherrie had a fight over whether they’d seen a sparrowhawk or not. Then they ended up with a ‘fiesta of birds’, which carried on the Ford theme quite nicely, and almost woke me up.
Round four saw the teams have to spot some specific birds, whilst on a tandem. Joe’s handlebar came off.
And then suddenly there was a gigantic cacophony of noise and a squillion birds launched into the air en masse, causing a dense cloud of wings weaving through the sky! And it was in the actual programme! “This isn’t birdwatching; this is phenomenal,” said Sherrie. And had they stayed on the image for longer than a few seconds, we might well have agreed with her.
Ugh, I just can’t get with this. I tried so hard, but it doesn’t manage to be either educational or entertaining. I’m assuming it was a riot to film, but none of that comes across on screen and the result is a version of Springwatch with less gravitas and – worryingly – humour. At least the presenters on that are clearly loving it.
There are four more of these. I fear for my survival.
Bill Bailey’s Bird Watching Bonanza airs Thursdays on Sky One at 9pm.
Check out our review of the opening episode here.