We’ve been watching a series called ‘The Inbetweeners’, having landed on it while channel-hopping some weeks back. I can never fathom why these excellent comedies are tucked away in late-night slots on the minor channels, while the mainstream channels churn out the TV equivalent of chicken nuggets for the masses.
Adrian Edmondson recently did ‘Teenage Kicks’, a sitcom in which he played a divorced dad, living with his crazy mixed-up teenager children in a student flat, and having to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs. It was originally, it appears, a radio comedy series which the PTB thought may transfer successfully to TV. Sadly no. Rather than transferring to BBC 1 or 2 it went to ITV, which is always a worrying prospect for sitcoms. It still sounds like a radio comedy, the beauty of which is that you can imagine the surreal and grotesque characters within the bounded universe of the writing. Having said that, ‘The League of Gentlemen’ made the leap to TV spectacularly well, so it can be done.
‘Teenage Kicks’ failed by being simply old-fashioned and not updating the writing for TV. Ade should have had a word with the wife. She’s had a bit of experience in things like this.
On BBC1 at the moment we have ‘Not Going Out’ which stars Lee Mack and the ghastly Tim Vine. I don’t know what it is about Tim Vine that makes me want to pick up a gun. It’s not just this sitcom, which is as dull as they come, and scheduled at an hour where the viewers are mostly likely to be drunk and no doubt more appreciative of the subtle philosophical subtext.
The blurb for a recent episode runs as follows:-
“Lee pretends to be gay to find out more about a new business acquaintance - but only because his reward for doing so is tickets to Wembley. His deception is soon uncovered and he is taken to a `specialist' club to test his alleged sexuality. “
What a new and revolutionary idea. I’m sure no one ever realised before that a straight man pretending to be gay could have such extraordinary comic potential. Why did no one ever think of this before?
Somebody please strap me down before I vomit with excitement.
The point I am trying to make is that the good stuff, the groundbreaking excellent comedy, (with the exception of Channel 4) is hidden away on obscure channels at ridiculous times.
‘The Inbetweeners’ for instance, should be shown at prime time on BBC1, along with ‘The Mighty Boosh’ (BBC3) ‘Flight of The Conchords’ (BBC4) and the brilliant ‘Gavin and Stacey’, which has knocked all other series out of the water.
In the meantime, catch up with ‘The Inbetweeners’ for the best comedy on TV at the moment... and avoid anything with Tim Vine in it. It’s bound to be a regurgitated version of something that was eaten in the Eighties