Why the Tracey Ullman show is worth watching - even if you think it won't be funny

Sunday, January 17, 2016 expat 0 Comments

Tracey Ullman proves she hasn't suffered from tall-poppy syndrome now that she's crossed the pond from LA - in fact she's a clever comedienne


Tracey Ullman, the comedian behind the Tracey Ullman show. Photo: BBC 

By Judith Woods

I didn’t bother to watch the first episode of The Tracey Ullman Show – her first comedy show for British television in 30 years – because I assumed it would be a bit lame. So, apparently, did BBC bosses, because they tucked it away in the schedules (Monday, bedtime).

This lack of faith meant that nobody would find it unless they really, really wanted to. Which I didn’t.

Shame on them. Shame on me (but mostly them). Because it was fabulous. Laugh-aloud funny. I watched it on BBC iPlayer while wading though my tax return and actually had to hit “pause” when I could no longer concentrate on taxi receipts. 


Ullman has been living in the United States until now. 

 Sharp, savvy and on-the-money irreverent, Ullman – now a remarkably well-preserved 56 – has improved with age, following her lengthy sojourn in the United States, where she has been feted for decades.

Her Angela Merkel impersonation was priceless: the hair, the trademark suit, the neck set low between the rising shoulders… and the twinkle. Oh yes: Merkel’s tiny, purse-lipped twinkle, the grave assertion that all other world leaders fancy her, her Teutonic swoon when she breathes in the scent left on her jacket by a hug from Obama. (Cameron, she notes perceptively, is a Penhaligon man.)

Ullman has done her homework. The scene in which Mutti Merkel drunk-dials Nicola Sturgeon to complain that she’s copying her hairstyle is a hoot.


Tracey Ullman as the German Chancillor Angela Merkel 

And then there’s her shoplifting Dame Judi Dench. The prosthetics were so realistic and the mannerisms so perfectly captured – from the almost imperceptible head movements to the flounce of the forgiving kaftan – that Ullman reports she has been mistaken for her. It was both affectionate and wicked, as the best comedy should be.


Ullman as Judi Dench. 

Ullman, a mother of two, is a grown-up, clever comedienne who has done tremendously well across the pond. Having lived for many years in LA with her comedy producer husband, Allan McKeown (whom she lost to cancer in 2013, just days before their 30th anniversary), she risked falling foul to tall-poppy syndrome on her return to Britain. However, the BBC has just announced it is recommissioning her show. I hope she forgives their parlous scheduling of this series.

Welcome home, Tracey.

Source: The Telegraph

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