Category Archives: ‘Father Figure’

‘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.

This Week in TV – 14th – 20th September

Here I provide a comprehensive list of the best of the coming week’s TV – from a tribute to broadcasting royalty to an interview with actual royalty. Oh, and a few comedy bits thrown in too.

Saturday 14th September

I Love My Country

BBC1, 7:10pm

This patriotic panel show began with very few fans (my and Metro‘s reviews are the only positive ones that I know about!) but I think people have warmed to it as the weeks have passed and realised that it’s not to be taken too seriously: it’s just a bit of fun. And if Ian Hyland’s mind can be changed, anyone’s can!

If you haven’t had the chance to see it yet, the basic premise is that Gabby Logan oversees a series of light-hearted, often odd games which test the celebrity teams’ (captained by Micky Flanagan and Frank Skinner) knowledge of all things Britain, from geography to history and popular culture. Each team has a group of loyal supporters in the audience who, if they win, walk away with an I Love My Country commemorative plate. Wooh!

The panellists this week are Dan Walker, Kate Humble, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Edith Bowman, Rebecca Adlington and Tyger Drew-Honey.

Also today: Tess Daly and Ronan Keating have fun on That Puppet Game Show (BBC1, 5:20pm); there’s a Pointless Celebrities sportspeople special (BBC1, 6:20pm); Cilla Black and Holly Willoughby (or Willoughbooby) join Dave and Keith for a few rounds of Through the Keyhole (ITV, 9:00pm); films The Green Mile (ITV4, 10:10pm) and I Am Legend (ITV, 10:15pm); the inmates of Slade get stuck in a church in a classic Porridge (BBC2, 10:40pm); and James McAvoy stars in romantic film Starter for Ten (BBC2, 11:10pm).

Sunday 15th September

Prince William’s Passion: New Father, New Hope

ITV, 6:00pm

In his first television interview since the birth of his son George in July, the Duke of Cambridge discusses his passions in life – from his family to his work.

Recorded at Kensington Palace, this intimate interview will see Prince William talk in-depth about his joy surrounding becoming a father, his plans for his family and also his work with Tusk Trust, of which he is patron. The hour-long special will also include coverage of the Tusk Conservation Awards, held last Tuesday, at which the Duke and Duchess were guests of honour, making it their first public appearance after the birth of their son.

With the news of Prince William having left the military breaking this week, it is also possible that he will discuss his time with the forces.

Also today: Jonathan Edwards presents coverage of The Great North Run (BBC1, 9:30pm); Holly Willoughby returns with more Surprise Surprise (ITV, 7:00pm); it’s the last episodes of detective dramas What Remains (BBC1) and Vera (ITV) at 9:00pm; and comedy films Paul (Channel 4) and Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Channel 5) premiere at 9:00pm.

Monday 16th September

David Frost: Hello, Good Evening & Farewell

ITV, 10:35pm

Following the sad death of broadcasting legend Sir David Frost in August, ITV is screening this one-off show in tribute to him.

There are very few people in the entertainment industry with the influence and diverse experience that Sir David had. From the satire of This Was the Week That Was and The Frost Report (without which the names John Cleese and Ronnies Barker and Corbett may never have been known) to the groundbreaking journalism of The Nixon Interviews, there was barely an area of broadcasting that Sir David did not cover.

Still working right up until his death (he died on MS Queen Elizabeth ,where he was booked as a guest speaker), his absence will undoubtedly be noted in the world of television, as many viewers mourn for him on both sides of the Atlantic.

Also today: Claimed and Shamed returns (BBC1, 11:45am); James Martin’s Food Map of Britain begins in the south east (BBC2, 6:30pm); Storage Wars comes to ITV4 (8:00pm); The Fried Chicken Shop is back, this time for a full three-part series (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Celebrity Super Spa continues (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Fazer’s Urban Takeover sees the N-Dubz star perform with the BBC Symphony Orchestra (BBC3, 9:00pm); Bradley Walsh presents The Crime Thriller Club (ITV3, 9:00pm), celebrating the best crime novels and TV programmes; and get the chance to see Robert Webb and Olivia Colman – whichever you fancy – naked in comedy film Confetti (BBC1, 11:35pm).

Tuesday 17th September

Britain’s Broken Families

BBC1, 10:35pm

This one-off documentary follows the work of Newcastle’s Family Intervention Project, where staff work tirelessly to help families who are living in some of the most run-down and challenging areas.

It is the job of the many FIPs across the country to do what the police, social workers and many others have tried and failed to do: improve the lives of families. If they fail, the families stand a chance of losing their homes or children.

Cases featured in the programme include a woman whose fourteen-year-old daughter refuses to go to school, and whose house is frequented by gangs, and a mother whose two sons are being neglected.

Also today: One-off documentary Posh Pawn (Channel 4, 9:00pm); The Magaluf Weekender returns to ITV2 (9:00pm); Later Live…With Jools Holland is back (BBC2, 10:00pm); Crazy Beaches (ITV2, 10:00pm) follows holidaymakers in Malia; and Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish (Dave, 10:00pm) takes a witty look at how today’s Britain is ok – but could do with improving.

Wednesday 18th September

Father Figure

BBC1, 10:35pm

This new sitcom, written by and starring Irish stand-up Jason Byrne, focusing on a dad whose attempts to be the best often result in him being the worst.

Based on the radio show of the same name (which ran for just one series), the eponymous father figure is Tom Whyte (Byrne), who always throws himself into his household tasks with aplomb – but seldom succeeds. The eclectic mix of characters in the series are apparently based on Byrne’s own family and friends, and the situations in which Tom finds himself are taken from the writer’s life too. That’s quite worrying.

There’s also a host of comedy talent due to crop up in the series as well: Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Karen Taylor (I’m Karen Taylor), comedian Michael Smiley and Peter Serafinowicz are just some of those who will appear.

Also today: Annie, Matt and Chris are back to fix some more consumer rights issues in Watchdog (BBC1, 8:00pm); Kieran Long and Piers Taylor present The House That £100K Built (BBC2, 8:00pm); Edwina Currie, John Barnes and Claire Richards prepare to cringe in Big Star’s Little Star (ITV, 8:00pm); The Three Day Nanny begins (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Animal Maternity (Channel 5, 8:00pm) follows the work of professionals who bring newborn animals into the world; Marianne Faithful is the subject of this week’s Who Do You Think You Are? (BBC1, 9:00pm); Professor Brian Cox presents Science Britannica (BBC2, 9:00pm); Rebecca Front narrates the story of twentieth century knitting in Fabric of Britain: Knitting’s Golden Age (BBC4, 9:00pm); The Last Leg comes to a close with Eddie Izzard joining Adam, Josh and Alex (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and, it’s where it all started for James Corden, The History Boys is on BBC1 at 11:45pm.

Thursday 14th September

The Wonder of Dogs

BBC2, 8:00pm

In this three-part series, Kate Humble and Steve Leonard will be joined by a team of canine experts to explore the innermost secrets of dogs – like what makes one breed so different to another?

In this first episode, historian Ruth Goodman visits Guisachan Estate in the Scottish Highlands, the ancestral home of the Golden Retriever, to meet some very pampered dogs and discover how far some animal-lovers are prepared to go to shower their pets with affection.

If ever you have been curious about the genetic make-up of dogs, and how certain brreds came to be, the answers may just lie in The Wonder of Dogs.

Also today: The Guilty concludes (ITV, 9:00pm); and crime comedy Burn After Reading is on ITV (10:35pm).

Friday 20th September

The Channel 4 80s Night

Channel 4, 8:00pm

For one night only, Channel 4 is taking a step back in time and filling its schedule with a whole host of retro goodness as they celebrate the 1980s. (Don’t tell anyone but all they’ve done is bring back Fifteen to One and jazzed up the Countdown and Chatty Man sets!)

So, as I’ve just mentioned, Fifteen to One is back for a special one-off episode at 8:00pm. There are a few changes for this revival, however: William G Stewart is out and The Last Leg’s Adam Hills is in, alongside the obligatory fifteen contestants – who this time are celebrities. Hoping to win thousands of pounds for charity, and take the title of Celebrity Fifteen to One Champion, is Jo Brand, Jonathan Ross, Dr Dawn Harper, Eamonn Holmes, Fern Britton, Konnie Huq, Stephen Mangan and, Adam’s Last Leg co-star, Alex Brooker – and that’s just a few of them!

Then, after Celebrity Fifteen to One, at 9:00pm there’s yet another 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (is it just me who now wishes they would get back to talking about the news and statistics?). As Sean Lock was absent for this recording, Lee Mack takes the role of team captain opposite Jon Richardson. Helping them out are Henning Wehn and David O’Doherty, with Vic Reeves in Dictionary Corner and Joe Wilkinson once again pestering Rachel Riley at the numbers and letters.

Chatty Man (10:00pm) is also getting a bit of an 80s feel injected into it, as the set is glammed up to welcome Jessie J and Matthew Fox.

Then finally 80s: Rewind The Tube looks back at the music show’s rise and fall at 11:05pm, with previous guests reliving their experiences on the show, and no doubt there’ll be talk of Jools Holland’s infamous ‘F’ bomb live on air.

It looks set to be a fun night of celebrations!

Also today: Bargain Hunt is back (BBC1, 12:15pm); Ronnie Corbett takes a sideways look at the nation’s obsession with animals in Ronnie’s Animal Crackers (BBC1, 7:30pm); The X Factor USA begins on ITV2 (8:00pm); David Attenborough’s Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates begins (BBC2, 9:00pm); Piers Morgan’s Life Stories is back, with Julie Goodyear the first to take a grilling (ITV, 9:00pm); fly-on-the-wall documentary Hens Behaving Badly begins (Channel 5, 10:00pm); and Katherine Ryan and Josh Widdicombe make their debuts on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm).

Are you particularly looking forward to any of these shows or is there something else from the world of TV which you want to have your say about? Feel free to comment below or tweet me –@UKTVReviewer.