David & Jay’s Touring Toolshed (BBC Two) is assembled from the loose parts of other shows. David is David Jason. Though famous for falling sideways through an open bar top, he also apparently is handy at fixing things so he has been sent out on the road with Jay Blades of The Repair Shop to… to do what exactly?
In this first episode they pitched their table at the Midlands Air Festival, where an addiction counsellor called Becky presented a wooden animatronic figurine that she’d made but which didn’t move as much as she’d like. In a jiffy the hosts had summoned from off-camera a master of animatronics who had a quick look and proposed a solution to put motors through a mechanical timer block.
“That’s what I was thinking,” quipped Jason, channelling Del Boy. “I was just testing him. You’re on the right track.” For that joke to work, which it just about did, you have to accept that Jason knows much less about mechanical things than the initial pitch proposes. If that’s so, what is he doing here? The answer seems to be riffs such as these, or it would be if there were many.
The cloth-capped joshing and mugging between the two hosts is all a bit make-do-and-mend. “This I’ve got to see!” said Jason as Blades proposed to fold his long limbs into a small Second World War helicopter. It’s not quite clear if Blades is Jason’s pliant straight man or simply his carer. They’re Lou and Andy from Little Britain but with feebler material. (On a warm-looking day, Jason was swaddled in a thick gilet puffer.)
They visited an air museum where a sprightly 94-year-old ex-serviceman fixes up old flying machines. He showed them a restored cockpit, where switches were randomly flicked and fat was vaguely chewed. Back at the festival two men called Darren showed off some reconstituted bits of an old plane that they’d made earlier. So while some handymen and/or women need the show’s help, others don’t.
It all felt aimless, like unmapped improv. The titular toolshed itself is a red herring, part backdrop, part travelling billboard. Lacking The Repair Shop’s heart and the funny bones of Only Fools and Horses, this rickety vehicle is held together with string, glue and gorblimey glottal stops.