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TV review: Don't Drop The Baton makes the Commonwealth Games funny

What can you watch if you don't like sport?

I hate it and so feel very little excitement about the Commonwealth Games. Maybe for those at the heart of the event it's all about the swish of the shellsuits, jolly mascots and throwing bunting into the air, but for people who're not full of sporty fervour the Games has, so far, had a veneer of grumpiness. There is a feeling radiating from the City Chambers that the citizens of Glasgow are a pain in the neck. From Margaret Jaconelli to those who'd simply like to park in their own street, we've been an inconvenience to the athletic juggernaut. We wouldn't even let them put dynamite in our flats for giggles! We're simply a nuisance and all we hear from the men in charge are sour instructions and diktats. We're blocking off the streets, they tell us. We're commandeering the bridges. Your village is on lockdown. You may not park here. And you lot can't possibly complain because we've fixed the Science Centre tower for you, and put some hanging baskets here and there.

No, I don't like sport, and feel no connection to Games but I have found, with great relief, that you don't need to like it to enjoy much of the BBC's Commonwealth coverage. It was the same with the onslaught of World Cup programmes: there was plenty on offer which had nothing to do with football, like the brilliant Welcome To Rio documentaries, and thankfully the Games coverage has done likewise.

Tonight's Don't Drop The Baton (BBC1) was a perfect example. It's a programme of brand-new comedy centred round the preparation for the Games - another episode will follow about the aftermath - and is a pleasing jumble of stand-up comedy and sketches.

Because this was billed as part of the Games coverage I assumed tiresome sport would still leach into it somehow, but it remained delightfully free of the thing. At no point did a comedian break off from their routine to introduce a minor celeb in a tracksuit. There was no sketch which ended abruptly to cut to a presenter in Dalmarnock, taking us on yet another tour of the velodrome. This show was purely about the comedy with just the mildest flavouring of sport.

It opened with stand-up live from Wild Cabaret in the Merchant City. Hosted by Susan Calman and Mark Nelson, it poked fun at our scramble to prepare for the Games, pointing out that the regeneration money should really be going to Rod Stewart. The two comedians were cheeky and bold and clearly felt no deference to this massive, costly enterprise.

The stand-up moved to some brilliant sketches about being a Games volunteer and ridiculed the desperate, behind-the-scenes scramble to attract celebrities to the events. Then there was a manic sketch where the Queen's Opening Ceremony speech is mislaid so the panicked staff give her lines from Pulp Fiction to read instead 'You will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee…'

Then the action zoomed straight back to the Wild Cabaret, with Susan Calman joking about Glasgow's trend for 'pop-up restaurants, also known as food banks.' This is a harsh, touchy subject, but the fact we can throw out a joke about it shows the tough humour the city is known for. But if sensitive feathers were ruffled by the food bank gag, she then turns on ATOS, who are sponsoring the Games - something about which everyone involved should be violently ashamed. She jokes that they're sponsoring the para-sports, but will no doubt claim the athletes are 'not para enough'. Bravo Susan! The organisers of the Games, with the help of the police, might be snuffing out meaningful protest against this appalling company, but the fact they can still be openly and joyfully mocked on national TV is heart-warming.

This was a half-hour packed with brave comedy which, incredibly, made me laugh out loud. I genuinely wasn't expecting to laugh. I feared jokes which had been weakened and watered by their forced proximity to sport. How glad I was to be proved wrong! Well done to everyone involved. If we're a big failure in the sporting arenas next week, at least we know we can still produce great comedy.

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