Tom Allen Goes to Town review – a love letter to Little England

The Bake Off Extra Slice star meets local characters and performs a hastily observed standup show

Having terrified the audience members of Bake Off: Extra Slice and the contestants in Bake Off: The Professionals, the comedian Tom Allen is moving out of brisk, food-adjacent comedy and into the world of the travelogue for Tom Allen Goes to Town (Channel 4). This amiable pilot forgoes the glamorous locations that other presenters boldly explore – how brave they are to put themselves through those long, hot, tropical holidays – and instead plumps for a tour of the UK’s smaller towns, “to shine a light on the often overlooked gems that make Britain Britain”.

He begins by spending a week in Wakefield, which is, of course, a city. “How embarrassing, a terrible start,” he tells the live audience at the comedy/variety show he puts on to round off his trip. Fair’s fair – Tom Allen Goes to City doesn’t roll off the tongue in the same way. Despite a slightly overstuffed setup, what emerges is a likable love letter to the underappreciated corners of the country – and a testament to the local characters, great and small, who make any community tick. (If the sight of non-socially distanced audiences enjoying a night packed in at the theatre is enough to make you choke on your steak pie, don’t worry, it was filmed pre-pandemic.)

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