|as a 90s throwback sitcom that's more entertaining than its premise or narrative might predict in which a pompous protagonist
|Conleth Hill, Rosie Cavaliero, Sian Gibson, Abby Vicky-Russell, Austin Haynes, Dominic Holmes, George Costigan, Jason Barnett, Lani Heywood, Rhiannon Clements, Ryan Nolan, Sheila Reid, Steve Pemberton
|Andrew Chaplin, Joseph Roberts, Gill Isles, Paul Coleman, Sian Gibson
|BBC iPlayer, BBC1
|28th July 2023
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
It’s 1990 and Martin Parker (Conleth Hill) runs a fading electrical supplies shop in northern England.
To the outside world, he presents a picture of success, but in his private life, everything is crumbling around him.
His wife Diane (Rosie Cavaliero) is about to find out that he’s been having a long-time affair with a care-home worker, Kath (Sian Gibson), and he’s so in debt that he’s been borrowing money from local gangsters.
And when his only way out of his misery – election as treasurer of the local Rotary Club – hangs in the balance, he has no-where left to turn.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Just to be clear – this is a comedy. And generally quite a funny one.
Car Share’s Sian Gibson is the co-writer and one of the stars of this nostalgic sitcom that takes a fresh look at infidelity and pomposity.
One weakness of the show is the fact that there’s nothing likeable about its central character – Martin is a selfish philanderer who bullies his staff and has no respect for anyone. At the first sign of trouble, he’ll turn on anyone – even the one person he supposedly loves.
We’re very much laughing at him, rather than with him, but unlike the similarly self-important David Brent, there’s no underlying charm and heart trying to burst out of Parker, but that makes it easier to bear watching the descent of this architect of his own misfortune.
And because he’s such a nasty piece of work, he brings the worst out in everyone – only Gibson’s care-worker Kath retains any degree of integrity – well, she did write it.
It’s the contrast between the failures of the businessmen with ideas above his station and the odd-couple friendship that develops between his wife and mistress that carries much of the humour.
The first episode ends with an unexpected revelation, but there are few other surprises as the plot slowly unfolds over the remaining five episodes.
But the series remains entertaining, partly lifted by nostalgia for the early 1990s – not a period that invites too many visitors, these days.