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Mel Smith: I’ve Sort of Done Things

Christmas Eve, 9.45-10.45pm, BBC2

This tribute to the comedian who died earlier this year is pure TV gold, kicking off with Mel’s lovely darts players’ sketch and continuing with more terrific clips from ‘Not the Nine O’Clock News,’ before steaming into ‘Alas Smith and Jones’ and those stunning head-to-heads. Like eavesdropping into the conversation of some very dim but achingly funny pub regulars, these sketches easily stand the test of time, but also showcase both a huge talent and a new form of comedy as innovative and of its age as Monty Python before it.

In between the clips, it’s a fairly standard biopic taking us from Mel’s schooldays to insightful contributions from colleagues and friends – among them Griff Rhys Jones, Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson – to less well-known areas of his life. His less-than-stellar stint in Hollywood, his work as an actor and theatre director, his business acumen, his enthusiasm for horse-racing and gambling are all here, alongside rare footage and gently amusing home videos like Mel’s mum, Vera, dancing in her kitchen to Yazz’s ‘The Only Way Is Up’.

And the torrid tales of Mel as bon viveur – including being interviewed by Selina Scott on breakfast TV while completely pissed ­– evoke a life lived very large. An overview that’s both commendably completist and wonderfully funny.