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Rob Newman's History of the World... Backwards 







Series cast summary:
Rob Newman Rob Newman ...  Various Characters 6 episodes, 2007
Isaac Thomas Isaac Thomas ...  Pauper Boy 2007 3 episodes, 2007


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alternative comedy | See All (1) »


Comedy | History

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Neither as clever nor as funny as the concept would make you hope it would be
17 February 2008 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

Rob Newman's sketch show is based around the concept that the title sums up in a few words but I will describe with more. Essentially history moves backwards but not, it is important to note, time. Therefore, within this show, a man born in 2007 who lives for 70 years will watch computer technology become more and more clunky until phasing out totally; then also see out a world war (which is only ended by an assassination) before his death in 1937. The concept sounds clever but I wondered how it would work in practice and, additionally, how it would stand up over the 3 hour run of this series.

Unfortunately the answer is that it doesn't actually work that well. The idea is "different" but it is not as clever as it would like to think it is and it is only occasionally when it is used to good effect (as opposed to just used). Indeed the concept is sometimes so thinly used that it is irrelevant in the sketches in the same way that for other sketch shows the normal flow of time is irrelevant. The best example of this is the old couple who say everything in a really sinister way, they are forcing into the backwards things unnecessarily.

In terms of laughs though, it shouldn't really matter because the hope would be that the laughter would distract the viewer from nit-picking. Problem is, it isn't that funny either. Ironically the funnier skits are the ones that use the concept least while the majority seem to be more about the central idea tend to be more bemusing than funny or clever. It is a real shame because there is a real level of invention at play here that deserves to work much better than it does – look how many brain dead comedies manage to be funny with the minimal of effort, so surely Newman deserves his laughs? Well, maybe but sadly the world doesn't work like that. Newman's not great in the delivery but does OK while benefiting from a collection of solid turns from recognisable faces (and voices) around him.

The show wasn't helped by putting it on after the much better "Flight of the Conchords", only further exposing how much less funnier and enjoyable it all is but even without this it isn't anywhere near as funny as it should be nor as clever either. By focusing so much on his concept Newman seems to have lost the comedy while also failing to really make the best use of the backwards idea.

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Release Date:

30 October 2007 (UK) See more »

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