‘Father Figure’ (BBC1) Review

Jason Byrne, respected circuit success, has created a sitcom. It should be fantastic, shouldn’t it? Well yes, it should. Unfortunately what Byrne has given us, though, is far from ‘fantastic’. It’s Father Figure, and while its creator and star is a circuit success, this is a TV turkey.


When will writers realise that you can’t recreate the success of shows like Miranda and Mrs Brown’s  Boys simply by chucking some stereotypes into an everyday situation, giving them some painfully obvious jokes (a couple of which may make use of the word ‘arse’ – naughty!), drafting in an abnormally over-excited audience and labelling it ‘family friendly’? God that phrase strikes dread into me. That and ‘traditional sitcom’. Now that’s not because I dislike those areas of comedy but because they’re too often a mere imitation of the aforementioned monster hits. Of course, it could be a coincidence that Jason Byrne’s sitcom about a dysfunctional Irish family, featuring a domineering mammy and dozy granddad, has appeared at the height of Brendan O’Carroll’s sitcom about a dysfunctional Irish family, featuring a domineering mammy and dozy granddad’s popularity, but he surely can’t expect people not to draw comparisons.

The difference between Mrs Brown’s Boys and Father Figure, however, is that the former is funny. Well, when there isn’t an – of course unintentional – “blooper”. Father Figure tries to be funny. In fact, Father Figure thinks it’s funny – but it just isn’t. Sorry. Far from being funny, it was so tedious, such an utter waste of time that it became almost impossible to bear.


In case you don’t know the basic premise, Jason Byrne plays a dad who often does things wrong. That’s it. That’s the long and short of it. Whether it’s inadvertently making the neighbours think that  he is licking poo off of his son or ironing a steak, Tom Whyte (Byrne) just gets it all wrong. And how unbelievably hilarious Byrne clearly thinks it is.

It’s almost as if he didn’t read his own script, as if he wrote a line here and there over a few weeks’ worth of bus journeys, and when he reached thirty pages said to himself, ‘That’ll do’ and handed it into the BBC. Didn’t he at least take a glance at the first episode and realise that it was joke-free? Actually, I’ll put it another way: that it was free of any real jokes? Any funny jokes?

All it seemed to be was a constant leap from one gaffe to another, with disapproving neighbours, a stressed-out wife and Pauline McLynn (pictured) all cropping up at regular intervals. Just like Tom’s life, it was a complete mess.

The point of having a family like the Whytes is for all of the characters to be irritated by each other, while the audience find them simply hilarious, just like The Royle Family, Only Fools and Horses, My Family, even Mrs Brown’s Boys. Need I go on? This show, on the other hand, has everyone irritated: the characters, the audience, and no doubt the BBC bigwigs when they realise that this drivel is almost universally disliked.


It would have been bad enough if a new writer had penned Father Figure. In fact, that could even possibly have been forgiven. But the fact that such a much-loved stand-up as Jason Byrne is responsible is simply baffling.

Images courtesy of BBC and Idil Sukan, ©BBC

Father Figure is on Wednesdays at 10:35pm on BBC1

What did you think of Father Figure? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Please comment below or tweet me – @UKTVReviewer.

You can also see what’s coming up on TV in the coming week on this blog, published every Saturday at midnight.


4 thoughts on “‘Father Figure’ (BBC1) Review

  1. Les Berry says:

    I actually went to see a recording of the second program. Whilst it’s sometimes difficult to assess these productions whilst being filmed, I too found the writing pedestrian, the plots puerile, the acting awful and a complete lack of comedic content, When compared to some of the classic BBC comedies of yesteryear such as Dads Army, Blackadder, Yes Prime Minister, this is an awful example of the genre and not worthy of transmission. It should be put our of its misery now.

  2. Trev Williams says:

    Thoroughly agree with all that’s been said here. I didn’t think “Father Figure” could be any worse than the truly awful “The Wright Way” or ITV’s “The Job Lot” but boy how wrong could I be. I suffered the first episode and thought I would watch number two as I couldn’t believe it could be any worse. WRONG….. I actually turned episode 2 off after 5 minutes and went to bed as I couldn’t bear to watch 1 second more of this utter drivel. Jason Byrne should be ashamed of putting his name to this crud. How on earth can Pauline McLynn lower herself from her brilliant “Father Ted” days to being in this tripe. She must be desperate for work!!! Mr Byrne try going to Jimmy Perry or maybe watch “Fools & Horses” or “Blackadder” and maybe you might just learn a thing or two about sitcom’s !!!!!

  3. Maureen McGowan says:

    Absolute rubbish..an insult to adults. If the bbc are giing to air such dross then put it on a kiddies channel..then maybe not as kids would probably switch it off!

  4. Steve Webb says:

    I also went to see one of the recordings of this show and concur with previous comments. The only remotely amusing moments were between takes when the actors ad-libbed with the audience. Also extremely annoying was the over the top false laughter by certain members of the audience only interested in hearing themselves on tv. Have since suffered the series on tv just to see if it really was that bad…it is. A real stinker.

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