BBC iPlayer review: Funny Valentines Shorts (2016)
Ivan Radford | On 13, Feb 2016
It’s February, which means that BBC iPlayer has another string of Valentine’s Day-themed shorts for its romantic streaming bow.
The comedy films, titled “Funny Valentines”, were first released last year, with comedians such as Bill Bailey, Matt Berry, Romesh Ranganathan, Sara Pascoe and Limmy all taking part. The response was amorous, with the collection racking up a total of 1.3 million views and downloads – and, in the cast of Nick Helm’s Elephant, a BAFTA nomination.
This year, Adil Ray (Citizen Khan) and Harry Hill bring us their own takes on the affairs of the heart.
Harry Hill’s Look at Love
What is love? Harry Hill aims to answer one of the universe’s big questions in under 10 minutes with his Funny Valentines short, which provides a manic tour through science, facts and trivia, almost all of which is made-up.
Harry Hill has always excelled at stitching together bits of TV footage to comic effect and, while this is far from his TV Burp heights, you’d have to have ear cataracts not to giggle at the onslaught of silliness. There’s a lot in common here with Matt Berry’s recent Matt Berry Does… series for BBC iPlayer, although Hill’s Look at Love feels less focused than those similarly topical affairs: our presenter spends a lot of time analysing what makes men and women different, rather than investigating his purported subject, which leaves the whole thing seeming a tad haphazard.
But there’s no risk of boredom setting in, thanks to the montage’s rapid pace, which dashes from archive footage to clips from First Dates, all accompanied by daft voices and even dafter noises. And throughout the 10 minutes, there’s a enjoyable sense that anything might happen next. “If you’ve liked anyone you’ve seen on screen so far,” quips Hill, unexpectedly breaking the fourth wall halfway through, “I can get any of their contact details for you, with modern apps like Tinder, Angle Grinder and Panda Botty.”
Available until: January 2017
Photo: BBC/Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images
Citizen Khan’s Adil Ray takes off the beard to introduce us to a new comic creation: Rafi, who spends his days working as a carer for Bert (Corrie’s Ted Robbins). Robbins is clearly having a whale of a time as the bigoted slob, slinging racist remarks at Rafi while he throws them back in his face. But what starts out as extremely broad humour – posh toilet roll and overbearing mothers – becomes surprisingly subtle as their conversations continue.
Harvey Virdi (another Khan veteran) soon makes an appearance as Rafi’s mum and, while her trying to organise a date for him is the familiar driving force of the narrative, the real pleasure of the thing is watching the trio interact; Ray changes his manner completely when his mother turns up, taking out his earring and turning up his politeness, but Bert remains as grumpy as ever, allowing him to stick up for Rafi where he can’t. “Tell him I’m not controlling,” Rafi’s mum orders her son. “Ok,” he replies, meekly. “What did you want me to say again?”
What emerges is something endearingly nuanced – not a study of the culture-clashing sexual chemistry between Rafi and his unseen female suitor, but a gentle tribute to the plutonic bond between Rafi and his rude companion. Love, Darling Rafi reminds us, doesn’t always have to be romantic. Even with the toilet roll jokes, this film is both short and sweet.
Available until: January 2017
Photo: BBC / Vishal Sharma