Changing Ends Season 1 Review – A fun comedy that many will relate to

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 2.5/5

 

Alan Carr is one of the UK’s most beloved comedians (and chat show hosts) but I’m not sure how many people sat down in front of the TV and thought to themselves “I wonder what Alan was like as a kid.”

I’m not sure I ever have, which is why I was rather surprised when ITV announced they were going to air a sitcom based around Alan’s childhood. The show has been available to stream on ITVX for a short while now but in mid-April 2024, the series received its terrestrial television debut.

The show is set in the 1980s, a time when Alan was growing up and taking his first steps into “big school.” As befitting this period, there are lots of references to the decade, from fax machines to walkie-talkies, as well as mention of TV shows that Alan was a fan of – Dynasty and Murder She Wrote being the most prominent. 

The series could have fallen flat on its face if the wrong casting choice for young Alan had been made. Thankfully, the role was given to rising star Oliver Savell, who nails Carr’s characteristics perfectly. When listening to his voice and watching his flamboyant movements, it’s easy to see the older performer in him.

It’s Savell who brings the show to life. While the other actors offer a few laughs, including Shaun Dooley as Alan’s dad and Cariad Lloyd as Alan’s pretentious school drama teacher, it’s the young actor who delivers most of the funniest moments with his effortlessly amusing performance. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking Changing Ends is just another British sitcom, however. While it is funny (though rarely laugh-out-loud hilarious), the show also touches on the homophobia prevalent in the 1980s and the bigotry of other kids (and their parents) when faced with somebody as camp as Alan Jr.

There are moments in the show when our comedic protagonist is visibly upset by the bullying he receives, and in one heartwarming moment, he opens up about this to his dad. Of course, homophobia has never gone away. It still exists, sometimes with tragic consequences. But in the 1980s when many kids were afraid to come out of the closet for fear of being alienated at school, being gay was more taboo than it is now. 

This isn’t to say Alan ever comes out as gay in the series. He becomes aware of his campness in the final episode, and in an earlier section of the show, he recoils when he thinks he has to kiss a girl, but he never comes out to the world with a rainbow flag and speaks about his sexuality. Perhaps that will come in Season 2.

In the UK, Changing Ends is being shown pre-watershed (before 9pm) when youngsters may be watching the show. Alan Carr requested this, as he wanted any kids watching with their parents to have the courage to speak out about the bullying they may be enduring at school. This is something I applaud as it’s always important for kids to share the problems they are having. It’s also important for parents to listen, so moms and dads take note. 

However, the series does contain a few delicate moments that aren’t suitable for younger viewers. There’s a scene when Alan’s neighbours turn up at the park for a saucy get-together, for example, and in another episode, there is talk of a woman being bent over the table! You know what the writers are getting at there!

Adults might laugh at these moments but for a show that is meant to be suitable for school-age kids, more care should have been taken. 

Criticisms aside, the show is entertaining for the most part. It’s at its best when focusing on Alan Jr at and his journey towards accepting himself, regardless of the opinion of others. There are other subplots, one involving his dad’s football team, but these are rarely as interesting as young Alan’s personal experiences at home and at school. Whenever the attention is taken away from Oliver Savell, the series becomes a little flatter as a consequence, so it’s a good job he’s not off the screen for long. 

Changing Ends will be relatable to many, particularly to those who grew up in the 1980s. Alan’s fears about p.e. and showering publically in the changing rooms are bound to resonate with some, as are his worries about those dreaded BCG jabs that many of us faked illnesses for so we could avoid getting the vaccination at school.

Those of us who were bullied for wearing glasses, having crooked teeth, and/or being gay might also relate to Alan’s experiences. In a way, he is like many of us, except for the fact that he’s now a celebrity while a lot of us probably aren’t – Saturday nights at the Karaoke bar don’t count!

Ultimately, Changing Ends is a fun watch that passes the time easily enough. It could have been funnier but thanks to the quality cast, most notably Savell as Alan Jr, it never fails to be unamusing, despite a lack of genuinely funny laugh-out-loud moments. 


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7/10