Category Archives: ‘Nan’

‘Nan’ (BBC1) Review

Usually sketch show characters, no matter how loved, aren’t given a chance to break free from the shackles of their five minute skits and be explored and enjoyed in their own sitcoms. Of course, there are exceptions: Mr Khan (Citizen Khan, originally Bellamy’s People), Edina and Saffy Monsoon (Ab Fab, formerly French and Saunders) and Lee and Tim from Not Going Out, who started out as characters in an insignificant segment on The Sketch Show. All of these sitcoms have gone on to do extremely well (yes, I am including Citizen Khan in that statement), and there’s the possibility  that Catherine Tate’s Nan could do the same, as she has taken the much-loved, foul-mouthed Joannie Taylor from her eponymous sketch show and created a thirty-minute, one-off sitcom of which she’s the star.

As you may remember, we have previously seen Nan outside of The Catherine Tate Show and charity sketches in Nan’s Christmas Carol – Tate’s 2009 reworking of the Dickensian tale. Even at fifty minutes, this special (starring a host of comedy talent) was a real treat – as was tonight’s episode, which saw the 75 year old cause mayhem at the council offices, mistreat a poor hospital patient and host a wedding party for her neighbours.

I was slightly worried about Nan – Catherine Tate’s horribly awkward appearance on The One Show a few weeks ago suggested that she may have decided to stop being funny altogether. Plus, Mirror columnist Ian Hyland tweeted before the episode, ‘I’d love to be able to tell you Catherine Tate’s Nan on BBC1 tonight is hilarious from start to finish. But.’ So it wasn’t looking too good. Thankfully, though, I didn’t agree with Ian – despite there being the odd gag lifted from the original  Nan sketches and a few risky jokes about race and religion, it certainly seemed to me to be thirty five minutes of non-stop laughs. The golden ingredient – the character’s trademark acidity – was present right from the off and persisted throughout, creating the moments of caustic joy that made the character and her scenes such a hit in the first place.

What a treat it was to see rising star Ami Metcalf as Alice (pictured), the teenager who was paired with Nan as part of a ‘Young and Old Buddy-Up Foundation’ scheme. As she had previously proved in Walking and Talking and The Mimic, Ami is a fantastic comic actress and, although she was inevitably in the shadow of Catherine Tate, she did shine as Alice – particularly in the final scenes. Her sweet, humble character acted as the perfect antidote to Nan’s vitriol, and I hope that this – her most mainstream comedy role – has helped introduce her to a lot more people.

So, I loved Nan, it being the perfect follow-up to The Catherine Tate Show. Could it sustain a series? I’m not sure. As I said, some repeated jokes did slip through and there was nothing terribly original about it – which is not a criticism when judging it as a one-off, but for a six-part series or even a Christmas special, Catherine and her co-writers may have to brainstorm a few more ideas for the nation’s favourite foul-mouthed septuagenarian.

Image credits: Thanks to BBC, ©Tiger Aspect

Catherine Tate’s Nan is available for a limited time on BBC iPlayer

What did you think of Nan? 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 – 4th – 10th January

Happy new year! Let old acquaintance be forgot, etc.

Right, now down to the matter in hand. I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas telly! Last Tango in Halifax and Downton Abbey were particular highlights for me. In fact, I must have been full of Christmas spirit as I actually found myself laughing at Vicious. Out loud, too! Please don’t think bad of me.

Thankfully the people behind the programmes haven’t rested on their laurels in the new year and are instead treating us to some fantastic returning shows. Oh, and Splash!. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Saturday 4th January


BBC1, 9:30pm

Forget your Ted and Ralphs and your Lou and Andys, I think that the greatest British sketch show character of all time is Catherine Tate’s foul-mouthed Joannie ‘Nan’ Taylor.'Nan' - BBC1, 9:30pm

Having become the star of many charity specials (most recently last year’s Children in Need Holby  City sketch) and her own take on a Dickensian tale (2009’s Nan’s Christmas Carol), it’s quite safe to say that Nan was the stand-out character in The Catherine Tate Show, so it’s little surprise that the comedienne has brought her back for – a disappointingly short – thirty five minute special.

As we rejoin Nan, there have been a few changes in her life: her put-upon grandson Jamie is having to communicate via Skype, as he’s doing charity work in Africa (as actor Mathew Horne was busy during filming), so a young girl named Alice has been allocated to Nan as part of a ‘Young and Old Buddy-Up Foundation’ scheme in order to keep the pensioner in good spirits. Unfortunately that’s where the changes end, as, as you can imagine, Alice does not manage to perk Nan up. Over the course of the episode we see her causing a stir at the local council offices, disturbing the peace in a hospital and interfering in her new neighbours’ weddings plans.

I bet she’s still more cheerful than Catherine Tate was on The One Show though, eh?

Also today: An education special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 7:00pm); huge A-list stars such as Paul Ross and Ricky Groves take part in the new series of Splash! (ITV, 7:20pm); The Making of David Attenborough’s Natural History Museum (Sky1 HD, 7:35pm) goes behind the scenes of the broadcaster’s latest documentary; The National Lottery: Who Dares Wins (BBC1, 7:50pm) and Take Me Out (ITV, 8:50pm) are back; BBC2 has a Dave Allen Night from 9:00pm; Jennifer Saunders, Jamie Cullum and Paddy McGuinness are on The Jonathan Ross Show (ITV, 9:50pm); Little Fockers premieres on TV (10:25pm, BBC1); and Celebrity Big Brother’s Bit on the Psych returns (Channel 5, 11:00pm).

Sunday 5th January

Dancing on Ice

ITV, 6:15pm

Just as the theme tune to Heartbeat used to, the opening credits of Dancing on Ice reminds a nation of young people that they have school the next day. That’s certainly the effect it used to have on me,'Dancing on Ice' - ITV, 6:15pm anyway! Soon though that will all change as tonight marks the beginning of the end for Dancing on Ice.

For the past eight years we have joined Phillip, Holly/Christine, Torvill & Dean and the ever-changing judging panel to watch as a myriad of reality TV stars, soap actors and Loose Women risked serious injury by stumbling out onto the ice and performing for the nation but in just ten weeks’ time it will all be over, as Jayne and Chris and ITV have mutually agreed to end the series now, thirty years after the pair won gold for their Bolero at the Sarajevo Olympics.

As has been widely reported, this year sees the cream of the crop – and Todd Carty and Joe Pasquale – return to the ice in the hope of being crowned champion of champions. Competing are: Beth Tweddle, Bonnie Langford, David Seaman, Gareth Gates, Gary Lucy, Hayley Tamaddon, Jorgie Porter, Kryan Bracken, Ray Quinn, Sam Attwater, Suzanne Shaw and Zaraah Abrahams, as well as the aforementioned Todd and Joe.

Should be an exciting ten weeks!

Also today: Nicky Campbell hosts a new series of The Big Questions (BBC1, 10:00am); one-off fly-on-the-wall documentary Shipping Wars is on Channel 4 at 7:00pm; Kimberley Walsh and Wayne Sleep take part in All Star Family Fortunes (ITV, 7:45pm); the new series of Sherlock continues (BBC1, 8:30pm); Operation Grand Canyon with Dan Snow (BBC2, 9:00pm) sees the presenter try to recreate John Wesley Powell’s 1869 journey around the Grand Canyon; Griff Rhys Jones presents another It’ll Be Alright on the Night (ITV, 9:00pm); 2011 film Bad Teacher premieres (Channel 4, 9:00pm); and The Magaluf Weekender returns (ITV2, 9:00pm).

Monday 6th January

The 7.39

BBC1, 9:00pm

New star-studded drama series The 7.39 encapsulates the monotony of the daily morning commute'The 7.39' - BBC1, 9:00pm to work, but also shows how these boring journeys can lead to something life-changing.

The series focuses on Carl (David Morrissey) and Sally (Sheridan Smith), who have an argument one Monday morning over a seat on the train. Things do improve between them, though, as they begin to chat and a bond grows between them. It soon becomes apparent to the pair of them, however, that their feelings for each other are deeper than just friendship.

The problem is, with Carl happily married to Maggie (Olivia Colman) and Sally engaged to the enthusiastic and devoted Ryan (Sean Maguire), will they find it within themselves to confess their feelings to each other, and risk everything they have?

Concludes tomorrow.

Also today: New series of Wanted Down Under (BBC1, 9:15am), Rip Off Britain (BBC1, 11:00am), Real Lives Reunited (BBC1, 11:45am), Loose Women (ITV, 12:30pm), A Place in the Sun (Channel 4, 2:10pm), Father Brown (BBC1, 2:15pm), Britain’s Best Bakery (ITV, 4:00pm), Great British Railway Journeys (BBC2, 6:30pm) and Inside Out (BBC1, 7:30pm); A Great British Adventure with Griff Rhys Jones begins (ITV, 8:00pm); there’s a Food Unwrapped Diet Special (Channel 4, 8:00pm); The Bletchley Circle is back (ITV, 9:00pm); infuriating documentary Benefits Street begins (Channel 4, 9:00pm); Jake Hanrahan presents The Truth About Skunk (BBC3, 9:00pm); Secrets of the Living Dolls (Channel 4, 10:00pm) and Secrets of the Sales (BBC1, 10:35pm) are revealed; and I Shot 2013 (ITV, 10:35pm) reflects on some of last year’s biggest news stories, told through the images that members of the public captured with their cameras.

Tuesday 7th January

Weight Loss Ward

ITV, 8:00pm

I love living in, and am very proud to be from, Sunderland. I think that it’s a brilliantly diverse city'Weight Loss Ward' - ITV, 8:00pm which is often cast in Newcastle’s shadow. It’s just a shame that TV executives don’t regard it as  favourably, because instead of having documentaries set here which show us in a good light, we get Geordie Shore. Secret Millionaire. And Weight Loss Ward – a programme following the work of doctors in ‘one of the busiest NHS obesity units in the UK’. So Sunderland is home to perpetual ‘sessioners’, people desperate for charity and the morbidly obese. Hooray for us, eh?

As well as meeting new patients, the series also catches up with some of those who appeared on the programme in 2012, such as Terry, from Hetton le Hole,  and who when we last saw him had ballooned to 47 stone. Having previously fallen out of love with each other, Terry and his wife are now back together, and he is on a quest to lose weight once again.

Will Terry be able to do it for the sake of his children?

Also today: The return of River Monsters (ITV, 7:30pm), Stargazing Live (BBC2, 8:00pm), Location, Location, Location (Channel 4, 8:00pm), and Gibralta: Britain in the Sun (Channel 5, 8:00pm); The Lying Game: Crimes That Fooled Britain (ITV, 9:00pm) investigates the criminals who used crocodile tears to deceive the nation; Nigella’s new series The Taste comes to the UK (Channel 4, 9:00pm); God’s Cadets: Joining the Salvation Army (BBC4, 9:00pm) follows new recruits as they are put through their paces; Nick Robinson presents The Truth About Immigration (BBC2, 9:30pm); and Secrets of the Body Clock with Terry Wogan (BBC1,10:35pm) is…well…is exactly what it sounds like.

Wednesday 8th January

This is Jinsy

Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm

The surreal sitcom about a group of oddballs who live an Orwellian existence of constant surveillance'This is Jinsy' - Sky Atlantic, 10:00pm on the island of Jinsy returns for a second series.

The series is notable for its guest stars, and over the next eight weeks we can look forward to seeing Eileen Atkins, Derek Jacobi, Olivia Colman, Rob Brydon, Stephen Mangan, Olivia Colman, Ben Miller and Greg Davies – to name just a few. Starring in tonight’s episode is Stephen Fry, who plays ‘wig keeper’ Dr Bevelspepp.

Also today: Bigger Big Body Squad (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Ashley Banjo’s Big Town Dance (Sky1 HD, 8:00pm); Waterloo Road (BBC1, 8:30pm) and 24 Hours in A&E (Channel 4, 9:00pm) return; the first housemate gets the boot from Celebrity Big Brother (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Jack Whitehall hosts a postponed Live at the Apollo (BBC1, 9:30pm); Fergal Keane presents The Hidden World of Britain’s Immigrants (BBC2, 9:30pm); Hurricanes and Heatwaves: The Highs and Lows of British Weather (BBC4, 9:30pm) takes a look at the journey of the weather forecast; and Hens Behaving Badly is back for a second series (Channel 5, 10:30pm).

Thursday 9th January

The Undateables

Channel 4, 9:00pm

Well this is unfortunate. Having said all that about Sunderland being badly represented in'The Undateables' - Channel 4, 9:00pm documentaries, I come to The Undateables – the brilliant last series of which featured Steve, a shelf- stacker in Asda, Sunderland. Unfortunately he didn’t manage to find love during the programme, but we will be catching up with him in the next few weeks to find out how he’s got on.

The Undateables is quite a controversial series. For some reason, people think that the participants are being singled out for their disabilities, but anyone who has seen the series will know that that is not what happens. It’s just a documentary about dating – but featuring people who often find it difficult to get dates.

Looking for love in this series are: Mary, who has dwarfism; Daniel, who is autistic; Hayley, who has Apert Syndrome; Ruth, who has Tourette’s; John, who has Asperger’s; and Zoe, who has Mosaic Down Syndrome.

Also today: Supersize vs Superskinny (Channel 4, 8:00pm); World’s Worst Holiday Horrors (Channel 5, 8:00pm); Tough Young Teachers (BBC3, 9:00pm) follows graduates taking their first jobs in tough London schools; Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe (BBC2) and Botched Up Bodies return at 10:00pm; documentary series What Happens in Sunny Beach (Channel 4, 10:00pm); and Nick Grimshaw reveals this year’s BRIT Awards nominees in The BRITs Are Coming (ITV, 10:35pm).

Friday 6th January

Piers Morgan’s Life Stories

ITV, 9:00pm

In last week’s Life Stories, Piers interviewed EastEnders legend June Brown – whose autobiography came out last year.'Piers Morgan's Life Stories' - ITV, 9:00pm

This week, he’s interviewing Mary Berry – whose autobiography came out last year.

Does anyone else see a pattern developing here?

Not to worry, though: June Brown’s interview was quite enjoyable last week and Mary’s is sure to be this week as she opens up about her experience with Polio as a child, as well as her son’s death at the age of 19. She will also discuss, of course, her new-found fame as star of The Great British Bake Off.

Also today: Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Channel 4, 8:00pm); Andrew Graham-Dixon and Giorgio Locatelli present a new series of Italy Unpacked (BBC2, 9:00pm); there’s another Celebrity Big Brother Eviction (Channel 5, 9:00pm); Sue Perkins, Jimmy Carr and Reginald D Hunter are on QI (BBC2, 10:00pm); Graham Norton has an all-star line-up in the form of Robert De Niro, Carey Mulligan, Sylvester Stallone and Jonah Hill; and Russell Kane introduces a new series of Live at the Electric (BBC3, 11:45pm).

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.

Image credits: Nan – Thanks to BBC, ©Tiger Aspect; Dancing on Ice – Thanks to Nicky Johnston, ©ITV; The 7.39 – Thanks to BBC and Giles Keyte, ©Carnival Films; Weight Loss Ward – Thanks to Shiver Productions, ©ITV; This is Jinsy – ©Des Willie; The Undateables – Thanks to Channel 4 and Ray Burmiston; Piers Morgan’s Life Stories – Thanks to Kieron McCarron, ©ITV