sat 22/09/2018

Two Doors Down, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Two Doors Down, BBC Two

Two Doors Down, BBC Two

Gentle suburban comedy about neighbours

Beth (third from left) and Cathy (fourth from right) are the standout characters

With a slightly changed cast and set-up from its Hogmanay-themed pilot, screened on New Year’s Eve 2015, this was the first of a six-part sitcom (written by Simon Carlyle and Gregor Sharp) about the residents of a street in suburban Glasgow.

At its centre are Beth and Eric (Arabella Weir and Alex Norton), a middle-aged couple whose son, Ian (Jamie Quinn), has just decided to leave home and move in with his boyfriend, Jaz, but has yet to tell them. Two doors down live Cathy (Doon Mackichan, acting up a storm) and Colin (Jonathan Watson), while two doors down the other way are Christine and her teenage daughter, the monosyllabic Sophie.

This being sitcomland, nobody is allowed to be entirely normal or boring in a normal way – everyone has a quirk. So Beth is anxious, long-suffering and leaves food in the freezer long past its sell-by date, Eric can’t stop eating, Cathy and Colin are money-obsessed and can’t say anything without bigging themselves up or putting someone else down, while the ever ailing Christine (Elaine C Smith) is a martyr to her waterworks and interested in people’s stories only if they are about accidents or about ill health – so she gets along famously with Jaz (Harki Bhambra), currently off work with stress. Only Ian and Sophie (Sharon Rooney) seem relatively emotional tic-free, but give it time.

The comedy in last night’s opener came from Eric leaving the freezer door open after a secret midnight feast. The food – all of it out of date, much of it unidentifiable – had to be eaten before it spoiled, so Beth asked the neighbours around. Much wine was drunk, and little of the food consumed, as they chatted, voiced quiet insults and embarrassed their loved ones. Eric had been put on a diet by Beth so could only eat sprouts, which really don’t agree with Sophie, as Christine loudly informed the group. "I can hear her through the wall," she said.

Nothing much happened, and the jokes were gently amusing – even if some belong to another age in which being gay is remarkable, and others bear a whiff of pre-use. “You didn’t tell me Ian’s er…  was, was, was…. English!”  If I were being unkind I would say Four Doors Down owes an awful lot to both Abigail’s Party and The Royle Family, as well as socially awkward characters from any number of sketch shows, with equally broadly defined characters – only without the bits that make you laugh out loud.

But it does have two fantastic (and very different) performances at its heart. Mackichan eats the screen up whenever she’s on it, while Weir’s passive-aggressive agreeableness is nicely nuanced. Worth sticking with to see how the characters gel, and if Beth has a meltdown or Cathy gets her comeuppance.

This being sitcomland, nobody is allowed to be entirely normal

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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