sat 28/03/2020

Puppy Love, BBC Four | reviews, news & interviews

Puppy Love, BBC Four

Puppy Love, BBC Four

New sitcom about dogs and their owners

Joanna Scanlan (left) as Nana V and Vicki Pepperdine as Naomi

Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine are two-thirds of the talented team (Jo Brand was the other) who brought us the excellent Getting On, now probably lost to UK screens after three series but which will appear in an American format next year.

Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine are two-thirds of the talented team (Jo Brand was the other) who brought us the excellent Getting On, now probably lost to UK screens after three series but which will appear in an American format next year. Now the duo have co-written and star in Puppy Love, about a dog trainer on The Wirral; but whereas Getting On - a quiet, gently paced and often moving comedy set in the NHS - delivered its humour with great subtlety, Puppy Love (directed by Susan Tully) is frantic and obvious.

Take the slogan emblazoned on the side of Nana V's (Scanlan) van, advertising her business; “For all your dogging needs”. And the characters are drawn pretty broadly too. Nana V is a bit of a scally; she owes the bailiffs money, has a rail of clothes her daughter has shoplifted and lives in a caravan with her obese ex-husband – her “wasband” - Tony (Simon Fisher-Becker), whose crevices she dusts with medicated talcum powder, and their grandson, Eron (Aron Julius).

Naomi Singh (Pepperdine), by contrast, is a buttoned-up social worker who works for the charity Future'Z and talks in statistics, has a bike-obsessed husband, Ravi (Gordon Warnecke), who rarely engages with her and a teenage daughter, Jasmine (Selina Borji), to whom she never listens. Naomi learns that Jasmine has a boyfriend only when she talks about how upset she is about breaking up with him.

The two women's worlds collide when Naomi visits Nana V's caravan to talk about getting Eron back into school, and then she attends one of her dog-training classes. Another attendee is widower Alex (Tobias Menzies), whom the sexually voracious Nana V fancies and with whom Naomi bonds over their equally troublesome pooches. Naomi can't control her dog, while Alex's puppy suffers from coprophagia, or muck-munching.

There's some gentle comedy - the opening scene, where Nana V corrals a dangerous dog while dressed in full military gear, is a neat spoof on The Hurt Locker, where the explosive device is now a cornered canine – but mostly this is predictable, if amiable entertainment. The two women provide a striking comic pairing in physical and verbal styles, but whereas Scanlan's Nana V looks to be an original creation, Pepperdine's Naomi so far looks like a retread of her Dr Pippa Moore from Getting On.

Normally I'd be out after half an hour of such obvious material - we just knew that Naomi's truculent daughter would end up in bed with Eron - but Scanlan and Pepperdine's track record will draw me back for the second episode of six, which I hope will be funnier, and the women will have something interesting to say about the British love affair with dogs and what dog-ownership says about us. Plus, the dogs are really, really cute.

  • Puppy Love continues on BBC Four on Thursdays
There's some gentle comedy but mostly this is predictable, if amiable entertainment.

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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