Life of Riley, BBC1

Did we like it?
More a case of Load of Rubbish then Life of Riley. This is the latest dismal family sitcom from BBC1 – even worse than the recently axed After You’ve Gone or the bewilderingly successful Green Green Grass, which came on afterwards and seemed like a masterpiece in comparison.

What was good about it?
• The jangly reworking of the Lightning Seeds’ Life of Riley.
• Taylor Fawcett gave the most realistic performance as teenager Danny Riley, a combination of Lil Chris and McFly’s Danny.

What was bad about it?
• Caroline Quentin can epitomise “harrassed” as well as any actress – but here “harrassed” came with knobs on and was totally ridiculous. And why was she called Maddy when she has already played Maddie in Jonathan Creek? Because she’s mad for accepting the role? The BBC publicity compared her character (a woman who marries a man and has to help raise his kids) to Roseanne, Seinfeld and Victor Meldrew, which is like claiming mud is gold, fishpaste is caviar and a Fiat Uno is a Bentley.
• Neil Dudgeon, who can be a fine actor, was as hopelessly lost in this as he was in ill-fated BBC2 sitcom Roman’s Empire.
• The hysterical over-the-top acting of Georgia Pritchett’s hysterical over-the-top script. This hardly ever felt natural; everyone was being “witty”, widening their eyes and laughing at their own clever “gags” (eg “She was like Orville on speed”). Lucinda Dryzek as stroppy teenager Katy was the worst offender.
• Remember Tristram from George & Mildred? Cute little fella in specs and an inquiring mind. Life of Riley tries to recreate him in the form of Ted – but he’s just creepy and a little bit sinister.
• The banal “comic misunderstanding” over the pregnancy testing kit. Hilarity – or a baby – did not ensue.

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