Monday, September 27, 2010


Russell Tovey in Him&Her

Him&Her = Funny


Him & Her is the latest product to come off the conveyor belt of BBC3 comedies, and unlike some of its predecessors, it is a rewarding, enjoyable watch. Whisper it quietly, but it’s actually rather funny.

In a saturated comedic market, it seems that most of the writers pull out all of the stops in the quest for originality. Well, when I say all of the stops, we’re generally talking about setting or novelty.

This is a refreshing comedy because it does not make token efforts to come across as out of the box. The sitcom concerns the near non-eventful lives of 20-something partners Becky (Sarah Solemani) and Steve (Russell Tovey – everyone’s favourite naked emotional werewolf, George of Being Human). They are joined by Laura who is Becky’s sister and Paul, Laura’s fiancĂ©. Wait, has someone been forgotten? Oh, of course the neighbour Dan who is somewhat socially desperate but relentlessly hilarious.

The setting is not a school, a hospital, a space station or a VD clinic but a plain, old, grotty flat. Steve & Becky never seem to leave the flat, or at least the audience are never given the privileged view of their outdoor antics. For this is a simple comedy where something important is given a lot of consideration: the script.

The best way to describe the sitcom to somebody yet to watch Him & Her is to say that to an extent this is The Royle Family for disillusioned young men and women, mainly in their twenties, featuring fairly disillusioned or indifferent characters that they can relate to. Not only does the show resemble The Royle Family in terms of its confined setting, it also has a similarly realistic script. This in no way, shape or form makes this a Royle Family Lite, but it isn’t a million miles away from the outstanding comedy drama that introduced us to Jim, Barbara, Nana et al.

Throughout the 3 episodes screened thus far, Steve and Becky have been forced to deal with a spider, Paul cheating on Laura with a Mel C look-a-like, Steve being ill on his birthday and getting ready to go to Paul’s son’s P-themed fancy dress party. These epic social disasters are regularly interrupted by another social disaster, Dan. Not the neighbour from hell, just an oddball who craves a gentle chat that often leads into a whole world of awkward.

The best way of understanding Dan is to recall his habits, watching Titanic so he can look out for ‘Winslet’s tits’, bringing a spare grapefruit for Steve, or memorising the order of an entire deck of cards just so he can show off a ‘magic trick’. Although he may sound like the typical idiot sitcom writers employ, Dan is much more than that, offering brilliantly nuanced comedy, none more so than when trying to avoid being caught peering at Laura’s cleavage. This typifies the great script and direction of Him & Her, it leads people to use words like ‘nuanced’ when describing a bit of cheeky perving.

Indeed these are the big occurrences of the show, nothing earth-shattering ever happens. We have a couple who lounge about all day, don’t appear to work and have no urgency to do so, eat the leftovers of takeaways, play an Xbox every now and then and have a 2008 Reading Festival poster on their bedroom wall. It’s essentially every 20-something not necessarily on a bad day, but a ‘meh’ day. This kind of attitude is summarised by Steve in the opening episode when he is reminded that their friend Barney hadn’t been drinking the night before due to his imminent commencement of employment: ‘Why’s he got himself a job for?’

Watching Him & Her may be frighteningly evocative of wasted days that we all have every now and then, but watching an episode is anything but a wasted half hour. The comedy can at times be dry, and at others infantile, but it remains highly amusing. Stefan Golaszewski has turned out a great British sitcom, if you don’t want to miss out then catch it on iPlayer.

Above: Tom In Oz under umbrella at Stirling Library Scotland.

This article was blogged from the relative warmth of the upstairs library room at Stirling. Liz if furiously copying newspaper obituaries and info. We spent most of the morning from 8:30 to 10:30 at the Council records office at Stirling. Off to visit the headstones later...about 10 should be here in the local cemetery if we can find them in the rain.

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