In the last couple of weeks there have been a number of new sitcoms (and a new comedy sketch show) on British telly. I’ve dipped into some of them, and although none have been runaway chortle-fests, there have been a few wry smiles…
Heading Out (BBC2) has not been one of them. It’s awful. Really awful. A new Sue Perkins vehicle – yes, she’s not just a professional eater, she’s also meant to be a comedian. I remember Mel and Sue from Light Lunch, which used to be on BBC2 back in the day – I remember I quite liked it though can’t really remember what they used to do on it. Sue is also a regular on Just a Minute. The thing is though that Sue Perkins seems to be fairly amusing person – nice company on a day out to say some amusing and witty asides but I’m not sure she’s an actual comedian.
Heading Out is about Sarah, Sue’s character, who is a vet. It’s about her relationship with her stupid male colleague, her friends, and her attempts at romantic relationships (with other women). I saw the whole first episode and it wasn’t funny. And then this week, I saw the last five minutes of the third episode. It had the women who was called Rachel in Teachers (sorry I can’t be bothered to look up her real name) playing someone who was meant to be French with the most atrocious fake French accent I’ve ever heard. And then they would go to black and white when she and others spoke French. It all seemed very unnecessary. Obviously people in the BBC like Sue Perkins as she’s always on the telly and radio, but this should never have been given a (relatively) primetime slot.
Over on BBC3, the ‘youth’ channel and home for a number of sitcoms involving young people, there’s a new sitcom called Bluestone 42. Apparently it’s written by the Miranda writing team (not Hart herself though). It follows a bomb disposal unit in Afghanistan (think Hurt Locker but with a young, diverse British crew). There’s the posh leader of the crew (Oliver Chris), a Scottish person, a woman, and a black member – as well as two others. Apart from following them in their work and at camp, the running story is that Oliver Chris’ character wants to get off with the ‘padre’ at the camp – who is a woman called Mary (played by the blonde woman in Hustle – sorry, I really should look up these names….). There’s a lot of ‘banter’ and lots of pauses after ‘jokes’ where you expect them to gurn at camera ala Miranda to overemphasise that their jokes were meant to be funny. It’s not that bad though – perfectly pleasant to sit through but not something to run home for.
Over on Channel 4, a new sitcom started this week called The Mimic. It follows a character, let’s call him Mark, I think he was called Mark or Mike, who works in site maintenance but has a knack for voices. It starts with him in the car ‘being’ Terry Wogan, and then later he does Dale Winton, Al Pacino, James Earl Jones, Morgan Freeman, Ronnie Corbett. You know, the usuals. There’s a plot too – he’s found out he has an eighteen year old son, and you expect the story will be about how they bond. He’s also got a female best friend/housemate. And he doesn’t particularly like his job. The whole show was underbed with ‘sentimental’ music – and oddly it felt like a Ricky Gervais sitcom because of the attempt at sentimentality. The main oddity though was that the main character spent a lot of time just by himself speaking to himself in his ‘voices’. And a lot of his ‘voices’ weren’t brilliant. It was definitely not laugh out loud, but could get interesting?
Also on Channel 4 there’s a new sketch show called Anna and Katy. The problem with sketch shows I find is that they actually demand more attention than sitcoms. It might seem counterintuitive as they’re a series of a few minute sketchs so they should satiate people with little attention, but actually you need to concentrate more on each sketch. And when there’s a dud sketch, it makes the whole show seem boring and you don’t know whether you want to keep on watching through the next sketch… Anyway, I saw the first episode. The sketches were too long. They weren’t funny enough for me. There was a long sketch repeated twice with some morning show sofa hosts veering between a Jamaican and Irish accent. Although it did get good reviews elsewhere. But, hey, comedy’s subjective innit.