Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Preview: Him & Her, new BBC Three comedy with Russell Tovey

By Tim Glanfield

BBC Three, Monday September 6th, 10.30pm

Rating: Half a star out of 5.

BBC Three don’t do school plays, but if they did, they’d probably be better than Him & Her.

There are two ways of looking at this show; firstly the point of view of the commissioners at BBC Three. I’m sure they would argue that this programme is a refreshing look at modern twenty something life at its best and worse, held together by Becket-esque tragi-comic ‘story about nothing’ undertones that will enthuse and amuse in equal measure.

The second view is that of anyone who’s had the misfortune to spend 28 minutes of their life with Him & Her, the least funny, realistic and well executed situation comedy to be broadcast on British television in a long time.

The show is set in Steve’s (Russell Tovey) flat, a poorly observed hyper-stereotypical doss house where he and his girlfriend, Becky (Sarah Solemani), spend most of their time “shagging”, talking about shagging, waving dildos around in the air and playing on an Xbox before eating some toast and talking about their toilet habits at length.

Occasionally their mundane existence is interrupted by pyjama clad neighbour Dan (Joe Wilkinson), a bespectacled geek with ‘interesting interjections’ that offer about as much realism and humour to the programme as unicorn who couldn’t get through the heats on the X Factor.

Never fear, it might sound bad at the moment, but it gets worse. The introduction of Becky’s sister Laura (Kerry Howard) and her cheating boyfriend Paul (Ricky Champ) really throws the cat amongst the pigeons as it turns out Paul has been “shagging” (yep, it’s all about the shagging) a Mel C lookalike “back to front” … and Steve knows about this infidelity, but will he be able to keep his mouth shut once he starts getting taunted about the size of his penis? Are you still listening?

In a daring move for a comedy with no humour, there is no laughter track. Although this means that no one at home will know when to emit mirth, on the plus side it does allow the programme makers to pretend it was a drama when inevitably the complaints and poor reviews come flooding in.

For your reference, here is what I observed to be the closest thing to a joke in episode one:

Becky: “Are you gonna make me toast”

Steve: “Why don’t you just have bread”

Becky: “What raw, in the morning.”

If it helps, she was sitting on the toilet whilst she delivered those lines … nope, it didn’t help, sorry.

OK, one more go at getting a laugh. After Steve discovers that Becky “did a shit and you didn’t flush” he delivers a knockout line in the form of, “If you shit in my flat, you flush in my flat … if you want to do a stinky shit, you go back to your parents house and do it.”

My goodness, how did the writer, Stefan Golaszewski, come up with such witticism, he must be related to Oscar Wilde.

And here in lies the crux of the problem, the script and the story are abysmal.

As a concept, a show about young unemployed layabouts with a penchant for sexual shenanigans isn’t completely without merit. You could argue that in our newfound austerity Britain, such a show might capture the hearts and minds of a disillusioned youth, celebrating what’s good about 21st Century British youngsters whilst also exploring the many challenges and pitfalls that society delivers … for reference Him & Her does none of these things.

But a frankly juvenile script which revolves around bad toilet humour, hackneyed sex jokes and the most excruciatingly telegraphed observational humour is not the only problem.

The acting is atrociously bad. Now, of course you can’t polish a turd (and the script is a turd), but I would have expected more from Russell Tovey who has a good track record on screen, but in Him & Her he delivers a lacklustre, hammy and unconvincing performance as a ‘young, lazy and unemployed’ lover.

Starring opposite him, Sarah Solemani’s ill judged pastiche of ‘ladette’ characters and faux-dead pan leaves the viewer feeling equally cold. However, perverts out there will be pleased to know that she isn’t wearing many clothes for much of the show … so I suppose that’s at least something.

Believe it or not, I take no joy in delivering such a damning verdict on this show. I love comedy, and I want the BBC to produce more new sit-coms that bolster their heritage as one of the leading creative forces in this genre on earth …

… sadly, that’s not going to happen today.

To quote the show one final time:

“Come on let’s have sex, get your knickers off …”

“We’re missing Cash in the Attic”

Enough said.

September 1, 2010

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