‘Hebburn’ – Episode 1.1

Jason Cook’s new comedy – based on some of his own experiences growing up – Hebburn hit BBC2 last night – and I loved it!

‘NEVER FEELS UNORIGINAL OR LIKE A COPY’

People have compared it to The Royle Family and I do sort of see what they mean, in terms of concept: it focuses on a northern, down-to-earth, quite close-knit family. When it comes to quality, though, The Royle Family is pretty much untouchable – so, not to take anything away from it, I don’t believe Hebburn is at that point (and was therefore shocked to read that the British Comedy Guide have described it as, ‘the identifiable, real family comedy that The Royle Family always thought it was’. Although I love BCG, I have to disagree there).

Hebburn‘s similarities to other sitcoms don’t just end with Aherne and Cash’s – oh, no! There are many cringeworthy moments throughout, quite reminiscent of The Office, the plot about Jack and Sarah secretly marrying abroad smells of BBC3’s most recent hit, Cuckoo, and there’s something about the family and setting which puts me in mind of Simon Amstell’s Grandma’s House. Despite, on reflection, being somewhat of a concoction of these other brilliant programs, Hebburn never feels unoriginal or like a copy of another series – something which appears to be rare in the world of sitcom nowadays.

‘THIS IS LIKE A ROM-COM COMPARED TO GEORDIE SHORE!’

I know a lot of people from the north east will be up-in-arms about this show but I’m not one of them. After all, this is like a rom-com compared to Geordie Shore!

Even if I wasn’t from Sunderland, I know for a fact that I would still really like Hebburn. However, the fact that I am from the north east – and I’m sure this will apply to others from the area who watched it – enhanced my enjoyment.

I particularly loved Chris Ramsey (Jack), reprimanding his wife Sarah (played by Fresh Meat‘s Kimberley Nixon) for saying, “I’ve never been to Newcastle before”, by replying, “This isn’t Newcastle!” That is exactly how my dad – and probably I, if I’m honest – would react if someone said that! And if you don’t think it is a likely response, why don’t you go up to someone in Sunderland, South Shields, or Middlesbrough and call them “a Geordie” or tell them you’re enjoying being in Newcastle. I doubt you’ll get a response which differs much from Jack’s!

The magic of Hebburn is that I can identify with the family – much like everyone could with The Royle FamilyEarly Doors or even Only Fools and Horses. I know who the Pearsons are: I recognise their personalities, the situations they’re in, the colloquialisms they use. It’s all there! Cook has done so well to tap into north east life, yet also make his show universal, so that no matter where you are in the country, you’ll ‘get it’. That is, once again, a rarity nowadays.

 

There’s some masterful dialogue in that script, such as Dot – the ‘couldn’t give a damn’ gran – piping up with:

‘I love sitting in the lounge. We only use it on special occasions.’

To which Jack’s sister, Vicki, replied excitedly:

‘We ‘aven’t been in there since The X Factor final!’

It’s a simple enough line, and may not look like much on paper, but really is brilliant when delivered in that familiar Geordie lilt.

With such a well crafted script, excellent one-liners and subplots, I really do urge you to seek out Hebburn on iPlayer. Ya winnit regret it, pet!

To let me know what you think of any of my comments, or just to share your views on anything about the world of TV, drop a comment on this post or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer

Also, watch out for my review on shows such as The X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on my YouTube channel – http://www.youtube.com/user/UKTVReviewer

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