Never go back.

It is a useful little motto to remember for a whole variety of reasons.

For one thing it perfectly sums up why I won’t make the mistake of tuning into Ruddy Hell! Its Harry and Paul again.

But, more importantly, it should have been the attitude of two of the best-loved and successful comedy sketch show writers and performers of the last two decades. Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse have straddled the genre for years, creating hit show after hit show and contributing to other successful series.

But the once dynamic duo’s new show for the BBC is a real stinker.

The closest I can come to any redeeming quality was that I did chuckle at the doctored poster of Bono and The Edge on the wall of the bedsit that formed the backdrop for a singularly unfunny sketch on U2.

But it was quite a brief chuckle and the joke quickly wore thinner than the rest of the material in this alleged comedy show.

We’ve seen it before and recently too – French and Saunders being another shining example of a once hit duo dredging up a series of dross and drudgery that wasn’t even a pale imitation of them in their hey-day.

I don’t know whether it is laziness on the part of complacent performers, or they have simply lost that sparkle and magic that set them apart from their peers a few years ago, but Ruddy Hell!… was so bad it was embarrassing.

It perfectly illustrated how quickly comedy can move on and how far behind some performers slip.

I have some degree of sympathy for the two stars, but not too much.

Comedy can be a cruel business at times and in this series we’ve witnessed the spectacular fall of two of the biggest names around.

Their worst crime is trying and failing to get laughs at the expense of other performers – their snide and misplaced sketches that attempted to lampoon Mr Bean and Stephen Fry were shameful. As for turning Laurel and Hardy into homosexuals, I’m still not certain what the joke was supposed to have been.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the BBC, however, as this series is so bad the alarm bells should have been ringing long before it was commissioned and filmed.

As someone might once have succinctly put it: “Oi! Harry and Paul, no!

“I respect your previous achievements and the creation of some memorable and important comedy characters, many of which were insightful and biting social and political comments of the day as well as being laugh out loud funny.

“But don’t you ever grace my TV screen again with this puerile nonsense, stumbling about and trying to raise laughs at the expense of other performers like Atkinson and Fry who are currently more successful than you are.

“It ain’t big, it ain’t clever, but most of all it just ain’t funny any more!”

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