Most TV shows I find I have to watch every week, even if there is no requirement to do so. Chat shows, for example, require no knowledge of who was on previously to impact on the next one. Even so, I often tune in avidly.

The exception to this rule is when the chat show is more one-on-one. Unlike a more ‘panel’ based one, you are entirely dependent on being interested in that person who is under the microscope. A public figure could give all the revelations they want, but if you find the person repellent or just plain dull then the information means nothing.

Which is why I am so surprised at my own hit rate at watching John Bishop: In Conversation With. Three out of the four guests he has had on I have found interesting: James Corden, Charlotte Church and Alex Brooker. Admittedly, I find them so for different reasons. Corden and Brooker, to me, are naturally funny people. I find the dislike of Corden in some quarters to be almost irrational. Church, meanwhile, has led a truly fascinating life as someone who travelled through the always turbulent child star years to being an uncompromising musician and social campaigner.

One thing I did find in each episode is surprisingly varied tone in each one. This is to some degree understandable, as each guest is different. Yet there did seem to be a disparity in how Bishop treated Corden, a friend of his, to Church, an unknown figure to him.

Take for example the way Corden was questioned about his reaction to fame. He happily offered up the opportunity for Bishop to grill him about some less than dignified moments, but Bishop didn’t bite. No attempt to reference his spat with Patrick Stewart, for example. Instead, it felt like he had only interest in praising Corden.

By contrast, whilst he was gallant to Church when she was discussing the countdown to her 16th birthday coordinated by The Sun, he happily opened fire on some raunchy pop videos she had done. He was particularly disparaging of her defence of Miley Cyrus, suddenly playing a ‘Dad’ card. To Church’s credit, she made a strong case, pointing out that, as a parent, Bishop can censure his children from seeing it if he wishes, whilst also explain the context between different artists’ approach to raunchiness. Bishop didn’t really seem to listen though.

I don’t think Bishop’s problem was misogyny though. More that, in knowing Corden more personally, and likewise Brooker, he was happy to avoid challenging them. An interviewer who was equally distant or close to all three would have perhaps created a more consistent tone.

That’s not to say he isn’t good at his role. The conversations move along well and there’s a good mixture of personal introspection with well-told anecdotes, although his need to tell his own stories seems misplaced, another sin he seemed to commit more with Church than the others.

Overall, it is a good hour of TV. A bit of fine tuning with the tone, and this show could be really compelling. I will certainly be interested to see which side it chooses to take in the long run – the two mates chatting or the confessional.

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