Mum’s Birthday Voucher
Amy’s Job Interview
Cherry’s Salsa Class
Dad’s Bronze Medal
Granny’s New Boyfriend
Our Holiday in Scotland
There wasn’t much to laugh about during the recent pandemic. Many of us were being told we had to stay indoors, the TV was laden with worrisome news stories about the weird time we were living in, and socializing with friends and family was mostly forbidden.
Still, at least we were all in the same boat, proverbially speaking, so we knew we weren’t alone in our suffering and misery! This was especially apparent when the BBC aired Pandemonium, the comedy pilot that later developed into Here We Go, a six-part series that is currently available to watch in its entirety on BBC iPlayer.
In the original one-off special, we were introduced to the Jessop family, a group of people who were, like us, trying to deal with the ongoing situation of the pandemic and the rules and restrictions that they had been put under. It could have been maudlin and morbid but instead, it was a hilariously funny look at one British family’s efforts to adjust to the ‘new normal’ that the rest of us could relate to.
The first series plays out in much the same way as the pilot but without the face masks and hand sanitizers. We see events play out through the eyes of Sam, a young teenager who is making a documentary about his family for his media studies course. Each episode involves him filming the people in his life as they get into all kinds of domestic scrapes and comedic mishaps and nothing is off-limits as he collects his footage.
The show’s only flaw is the shakiness of the camerawork so it can be a little disorientating. However, this isn’t the fault of the show’s director as the wonky filming is reflective of Sam’s efforts to chase his family around with a video camera as they move from one wacky scenario to the next. If you can get your head around the way the show is filmed, you will quickly get wrapped up in the show’s characters and their various misadventures.
Katherine Parkinson, a long-time comedy performer who has had starring roles in many other successful sitcoms, including The IT Crowd, stars as Rachel, the mother of the family. Paul, her other half, is played by Jim Howick, who most recently starred as the bewildered music teacher in Sex Education. Freya Parks stars as their moody teenage daughter Amy, and Jude Collie plays Sam, the amateur filmmaker that documents his family’s lives, warts and all!
The wonderful Alison Steadman also plays a regular part in the show as Sue, Rachel’s mother-in-law, and Tom Basden, who created the series, stars as Robin, the unlucky in love brother-in-law who is far less masculine than he thinks he is.
Each character is finely drawn, they are all lovably quirky, and it’s a delight to watch the actors play their roles with such relish. It’s a series that can be watched multiple times and still remain funny, which isn’t something you can say about a lot of other sitcoms, especially those that weren’t particularly enjoyable in the first place.
It’s hard to choose the funniest moment in the show but if asked to pick, I would have to refer to episode 2 when dad Paul, who used to have hopes of being an Olympic archer, is asked to present sports day awards at his children’s school.
Paul is glad of the opportunity to make a public appearance, especially as he is trying to raise awareness for his terrible archery YouTube channel, but after a day spent riding a bike and causing himself an injury, he is hardly the epitome of athletic prowess when he makes his arrival at the school. Watching him walk stiffly up the steps to the stage, like some kind of malfunctioning robot is brilliantly funny, as is the moment when he starts to give a speech before slumping to the floor, where he then has to give out awards from a near-horizontal position.
Admittedly, my words cannot do the scene justice – physical comedy is always funnier when watched rather than when explained – but if you managed to raise a smile during my description, you will probably laugh out loud like I did when watching Paul’s unfortunate predicament on screen.
There are lots of other comedic set-ups, many of which won’t be unfamiliar to you if you have seen sitcoms of this sort before. Amy turns up for an interview along with her overly-enthusiastic mother and grandmother; the family have a day out and almost lose their sanity after losing a dog; Rachel accidentally sabotages a family portrait when trying to correct the artist’s unflattering depiction of her; Paul tries to prove himself in front of an alpha male…and so on and so forth.
But while the setups the series provides aren’t particularly new, they still manage to be funny because of the comedic playing of the cast. As they are a likeable bunch, you are unlikely to tire of them as they go from one silly situation to the next.
The show is a little like Curb Your Enthusiasm in one sense as things always go from bad to worse as each 30-minute story plays out. Unlike Larry David, the creator and star of that show, however, the Jessop Family are much easier to warm to as they are genuinely nice people and not grumpy misanthropes.
Here We Go is a show that is easy to overlook, as there are tons of other family-based programmes that fill our television schedules and streaming services. The Middle, Modern Family, and The Goldbergs are popular US examples, and in the UK, we have been blessed with such shows as Friday Night Dinner and Cuckoo. These are some of the better examples of the genre but there are lots of terrible shows out there too.
It’s to the credit of Here We Go’s screenwriters that the show manages to remain fresh and funny, despite its similarity to other shows. It’s not particularly ground-breaking but with its smart observational humour and an eccentric bunch of characters, this is one of the best new British comedies in years.
You will laugh when they try to get around a crazy golf course in under a minute because they have only just made it there before closing time. You will chuckle when they accidentally mistake a dog for another and try to return it to its owner. And your heart will melt when the family, despite their trials, tribulations and bickering with one another, experience moments of joyful jubilation when they emerge victorious after a chaotic calamity.
Here’s hoping for a season 2 as this is one show that definitely has a future. It’s rare to find a show that knocks it out of the park during its first series but this is one program that does, and then some!
Verdict - 9/10