Credit: BBC news
ONLY An Excuse used to be the thing to look forward to at Hogmanay back in the nineties and early 2000’s. Every end of year, Jonathan Watson would dress up and do great impressions of some of Scottish Football’s biggest names, from Sir Alex Ferguson to Walter Smith, from Kenny Dalglish to Denis Law, from Frank McAvennie to Chick Young, even the late Bill Shankley and Sir Matt Busby were not safe from ridicule.
However, the show’s quality dipped considerably in the mid to late 2000’s. Without strong co-stars like Tony Roper and Alistair McGowan to assist Watson, sketches became less funny and writers were scrapping the barrel for fresh material by introducing politicians.
After the 2009 edition, I decided not to watch the show anymore and took in alternative Hogmanay viewing or went to bed. Other than a ten minute attempt in 2017, I’ve not been tempted back and the poor reviews by critics suggest the show deteriorated further over the last ten years, each year passing the common theme was “time to call it a day.”
When it was announced that the 2020 edition of Only An Excuse was to be the last one, I decided to tune in for old times sake – and I’m glad I did.
The format of mixing classic clips from the first show in 1993 to the present day, along with the viewpoints of victims like Smith, Young and McAvennie, worked a treat and allowed the show to go out on a high. It was good viewing seeing the guys laugh at the catchphrases from the show, from Walter Smith frequently saying “particularly”, through McAvennie’s “where’s the burds” sketches to Chick Youngs infectious laugh – which Chick himself cannot do!
Whilst I wasn’t overly impressed with the fresh material from 2020, reliving some of the classic clips of the past was excellent and you could still laugh at them even now. The fact people were willing to go onto speak about a show where they got the mickey taken out of them shows that they held the show in high regard.
For its legacy, it was important that Only An Excuse went out on a high as opposed to limping to mediocrity that it’s done for the last decade, and that has been achieved. Jonathan Watson and writer Phil Differ can be proud of the work that they have done on the show, which has lasted 27 years, and can sit pride of place alongside other classic Hogmanay comedy sketch shows like Scotch n Wry and Chewin The Fat.
It is the end of an era for Only An Excuse, and good that it’s ended on a high note.