After six years, UKTV have finally invested money into an original sitcom for its flagship comedy channel, Gold. And, after a (somewhat disastrous) revival of Yes, Prime Minister and a couple of tribute shows, the first home-grown sitcom to come to Gold is this: You, Me and Them, which centres around Ed (Anthony Head) and Lauren (Eve Myles), a couple who are very much in love, despite their twenty year age gap and the disapproval it attracts from their friends and family.
When UKTV’s multi-million pound comedy investment was announced, the network’s executive, Jane Rogers, told Broadcast magazine that new shows would have to be of a high quality and able to ‘sit confidently alongside classics such as Only Fools and Horses and The Vicar of Dibley.’ This way of thinking had clearly long gone out of the window by the time You, Me and Them was commissioned, however, as I’m struggling to say anything about it. Anything at all: good or bad, really. It was simply incredibly unimpressive, as if the writer, Steve Turner, set out to create the new Gavin & Stacey but left out the charm, wit and entertaining characters and plots.
It hasn’t been a terribly good year for Steve Turner: his comedy-drama Great Night Out arrived on primetime ITV in early January, and after many, many trailers – which admittedly looked very good – it was generally met with indifference, before being swiftly axed after just one series. There was nothing to deeply dislike about Great Night Out, it was just…well a bit dull – and that’s exactly how I would describe Turner’s latest effort. It felt a bit lazy, almost as if he was relying on the central age gap plot to carry the show. I can quite safely say that it doesn’t, and if it wasn’t for the characters continually harping on about it, I doubt I would even have remembered it, seeing as Anthony Head, despite being twenty four years older than her, doesn’t look all that much different in age to Eve Myles. Oh, and of course by that I mean that Anthony looks particularly young, not Eve looks particularly old.
Being a sitcom about a relationship which raises eyebrows, You, Me and Them is inevitably going to be compared to Gavin & Stacey, but what Ruth Jones and James Corden did that Steve Turner doesn’t is write strong, loveable and engaging characters. With the possible exception of Ed’s ex-wife-turned-next-door-neighbour, Lydia (Lindsay Duncan, pictured), none of the characters make any impact. They just fade into the background with no one to stand-out in the foreground. Granted, the performances are good (but then why wouldn’t they be with a raft of comedy talent like Susie Blake, Jeff Rawle and Daisy Beaumont starring) but the characters themselves are instantly forgettable, as are the plots unfortunately.
We will have to wait and see how people react to You, Me and Them – many may find something funny and engaging in it which simply eluded me. All I saw when I watched it was some great actors working with a below-average script, and portraying the biggest of all sitcom clichés: the dysfunctional family.
You, Me and Them begins at 9:00pm on Wednesday 23rd October on Gold
Unless otherwise stated, all images courtesy of Gold, ©Des Willie