Londoner’s Diary: TV comedy cuts are no laughing matter, says Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette  (Dave Benett)
Kathy Lette (Dave Benett)

AMERICANS do comedy better than the Brits these days, says Absolutely Fabulous star Helen Lederer, amid revelations that the BBC’s television comedy output has halved over the past decade.

“Where are those honest-to-goodness comedy shows that the Americans still seem to be doing?” Lederer sighs. “I love individual comics but where are the sitcoms?” Ofcom has revealed that the BBC’s comedy output has declined from 225 hours of newly-commissioned programmes on terrestrial channels in 2009 to just 102 hours last year. Lederer believes it’s about money: “There’s a focus on the individual comedian and they are spread out on panel shows. It’s cheaper”.

Meanwhile, author and comic Kathy Lette tells us: “In the interest of public health, more humorous shows should be commissioned.” Lette has one more request: “I’d particularly like to see comedy starring older women. Over 85 per cent of people on British TV over 50 are men. Too often middle-aged women are put out to comedic pasture despite the fact that we are in our prime!” Mum’s Army?

Pond swimmer Serkis chills out

Andy Serkis (Getty Images for Sony)
Andy Serkis (Getty Images for Sony)

ANDY SERKIS isn’t afraid of a chilly dip. “I swim at the Hampstead ponds through the winter,” the Hollywood star tells us. “You just have to keep going. You can’t miss a week. As the temperatures drop, you have to embrace it.” Speaking at the Kenwood House winter light installation, the Hampstead local praised the Heath’s creative benefits. “If you’re concentrating on a role or you’re writing, it’s such an important environment. It really feels untamed, like organised chaos.”

Collins: Salt Bae message fits bill

Nusret Gökçe (Nusret Gökçe)
Nusret Gökçe (Nusret Gökçe)

It’s a Christmas miracle! Gemma Collins has reconciled with celebrity chef, Salt Bae, left, after saying that she felt a bit sick at paying a £1,450 bill at his Nusr-Et restaurant in Knightsbridge for a meal which included 24 carat gold steak. “He sent me a personal message on DM,” the former Towie star told us at a St James’s carol service last night. “The fact that he personally dm’d me… my Christmases came all at once.” Sweet bae.

Star authors ‘don’t impress children’

Ben Miller (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
Ben Miller (Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

PUBLISHERS beware, children don’t actually care about celebrity authors. “These people aren’t celebrities to the children,” says actor Ben Miller, who recently wrote his own children’s book, Diary of a Christmas Elf. “You find that out on your first school visit. I, of course, start by telling the kids what children’s films I’ve been in… wheedle my way in that way”. And while Miller may follow the well-trodden path of other celebrity children’s authors like David Walliams and Meghan Markle, he insists it’s a democratic process. “They don’t know David Walliams was in Little Britain.” Probably for the best.

Lindsay reveals wardrobe Santa gaffe

OLIVIA Colman went to the Landscapers premiere last night at Southbank’s Queen Elizabeth Hall with her husband Ed Sinclair. Meanwhile, Jonah Hauer-King, Nicola Benedetti and Robert Lindsay joined the Fayre of St James carol concert for The Childhood Trust. Lindsay recalled dressing up as Santa for his kids: “My son discovered there was no real Santa when the wardrobe fell on top of me because all the toys were hidden behind it.”


WE spotted Labour MP Alex Sobel at an awards ceremony this week wearing some rather outlandish attire. “I thought black tie can be really boring!” he told us, before revealing a print of Andy Warhol’s face on his backside. Sobel says he’s also asked the Speaker if he can wear his white floral jacket in the chamber. Will the eyes have it?


LABOUR shadow minister Jon Ashworth is still reeling from his TV blunder in which he sent condolences to the Liverpool suicide bomber’s family. “On the ticker it said a man had died and I thought ‘A member of the public has died,” he explained at a book launch, before adding: “It’s good to be here, I’m usually praising terrorists.”

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