One Red Nose Day and a Wedding, review: Comic Relief's Four Weddings centrepiece was a clumsy comedy of manners that never quite came off
Ladies and gentlemen, you were cordially invited to the wedding of the year. Sadly, this long-awaited occasion turned out to be something of a damp squib.
Viewers might not have been demanding a refund on their purchase from the John Lewis wedding list but they surely wished they’d spent a few less quid than they did.
The centrepiece of Comic Relief’s annual five-hour BBC telethon was “One Red Nose Day and a Wedding”: a 12-minute mini-sequel to Four Weddings and a Funeral, reuniting the hit romcom’s cast 25 years after its original release.
The ceremony, a closely guarded secret in the run-up to Red Nose Day, turned out to be a lesbian wedding between Miranda (Lily James) - daughter of Charles (Hugh Grant) and Carrie (Andie McDowell) - and Faith (Alicia Vikander), daughter of Fiona (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Their nuptials took place in North London enclave Islington and were as clumsily right-on as that location suggested. What their union gained in political correctness, it lost in comedy, chemistry or convincing emotion.
Most of the much-loved original cast were present and correct - stalwarts such as John Hannah, James Fleet, David Haig, Sophie Thompson and Anna Chancellor - but woefully underused.
Rowan Atkinson’s gaffe-prone vicar, fumbling with the fact that two women were marrying, was one overlong, painfully outdated gag.
The reception's highlight was Grant’s father of the bride speech, all bumbling Britishness and crinkly-eyed charm.
Proceedings were so stilted, it seemed like the actors were never in the same room together, although they actually were. Even the musical guest was a disappointment.
It had been rumoured that the wedding singer would be mega-selling troubadour Ed Sheeran. Instead we got his less interesting facsimile: charisma vacuum Sam Smith.
Four Weddings creator and Comic Relief co-founder Richard Curtis wrote this new instalment and teased: “I think there’ll be three laughs and two tears.” His script elicited neither reaction. The plot, such as it was, felt like it was building to a daring twist or late drama that never occurred.
The original comedy was found in the gaps between the stuttering speeches and affairs of the heart, between the aspirational lifestyle elements and universal emotions. Four Weddings was, at heart, an old-fashioned romance. This sequel was a clumsy comedy of manners that never quite came off. It was thoroughly outshone on Red Nose night by Jed Mercurio's far more successful Bodyguard skit, which wittily reunited Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes.
From Christchurch to Westminster, we'd had a day of tragedy and turmoil. The scene was set for a slice of pure, pressure-valve Four Weddings escapism which wasn’t delivered by this flimsy flop. I didn't know of any lawful impediment but I was tutting disapprovingly from the pews.