Trying a Bit Too Hard

Daily Mail (London), September 9, 1997 | Go to article overview

Trying a Bit Too Hard


Byline: JACI STEPHEN

Bloomin' Marvellous (BBC1); Noah's Ark (ITV); Holding On (BBC2) CLIVE MANTLE and Sarah Lancashire are both fine actors who made their names in popular drama Mantle as Dr Mike Barrett in Casualty, and Lancashire as Raquel Wolstenholme in Coronation Street.

They are people who could stand on a stage and read the telephone directory and you'd still want to watch them.

That's just as well in Bloomin' Marvellous, the new sitcom in which they star as Jack and Liz, a nice middle-class couple who decide to 'try for a baby'.

The first episode saw Jack leaving hospital after an operation to remove clots from his lungs, and Sarah planning to work on a Radio 4 documentary.

Jack is a writer-in-residence and a big baby; Liz is more sensible and makes a lot of jokes about her husband's lack of interest in sex.

Of course, people trying for babies and sexual dysfunctionality have always been the stuff of comedy, but it is as unfunny today as it always has been, largely because the scenes are always the same.

For instance: Liz lay in bed in her nightie and pulled one strap off her shoulder; Jack came into the bedroom, claimed he was tired and said 'Goodnight'. Naturally, this brought howls from the audience, although not as many laughs as there had been earlier when Jack made reference to his having a headache. They were rolling in the aisles at that one.

Another feature of trying-for-a-baby comedies are references to 'practising', and non-references to sex along the lines of 'you know', nudge nudge, wink wink. The tension always lies in the couple's decision whether to 'you know' that night - one of them always wants to, the other is less keen, and then the next time 'you know' is discussed, the roles change.

The whole trying-for-a-baby theme is tedious in the extreme and, so far, there is not enough that is different about Bloomin' Marvellous to elevate it to anything more than a kind of Carry On Bonking humour. But it has great actors, who carry some of the weaker lines and make the most of the better ones. …

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