Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Pick of the Night

Article excerpt


Blessed 9pm, BBC1

CHILDFREE? Dared to express an interest in having a family? Brace yourself for a chorus of "They'll completely change your life, you know" from friends, well-meaning relatives, newspaper columnists, and now Ben Elton's new comedy.

Of course, those of us in the as-yet-childless camp don't understand what it's actually like to have puke-stains on our jumper or our sleep interrupted by a wailing baby ... which could be why finding the gags in Blessed, taped without a laughter track, is a bit tricky. If you have kids, though, you may well chuckle with knowing recognition at comments about leaky nipples, controlled crying and projectile vomiting.

Ardal O'Hanlon (right) and Mel Giedroyc star as stressed parents Gary and Sue, fighting for sleep amid a sea of infant-detritus, and feeling inadequate in comparison with uber-efficient neighbours Bill and Mary, whose kids sleep through the night, so they have time for jogging (and, indeed, for getting dressed).

Gary produces advertising jingles for a living, so hangs around in a recording studio with a singer, a guitarist and a drummer. None of his muso mates have small children, so they spend their spare time in the pub naming their favourite songs and dissecting their relationships. They have spare time, you see.

Get the message, oh childless ones? It's written in six-foot-high fluorescent letters.

Blessed definitely contains the elements of a decent sitcom plot: a family, competitive neighbours, colleagues with odd personality quirks. There are some top-drawer performances as well, notably from Robert Webb as Bill and Michael McKell as guitarist Ronnie (whom he plays as a deliciously hammy hybrid of Mick Jagger and Bill Nighy in Love, Actually).

Alas, the script doesn't entirely support the cast's efforts. One particular subplot about Gary shopping in the mini-mart is toe-curlingly embarrassing.

But, as I say, if you have small children, you may well find Blessed hilarious. Unless, of course, said small children are making you watch Finding Nemo for the 476th time.

Rock School 9.30pm, Channel 4

It's all very well being a worldfamous rock star, but that doesn't mean the kids in your music class are going to respect you. …

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