TV Review, Uncle, Series 2, BBC3

Uncle, Series 2

I knew Uncle was returning, but it seems to have sneaked into the schedules without as much hoo-ha as the first series. The timing could not be better though. Last week the hit sitcom starring Nick Helm as dissolute uncle Andy to nephew Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott) won Best Multichannel Programme at the Broadcast Awards.

There are two shocks at the start of this opening episode. The first one we won’t reveal, even if it does feel very similar to events in the cult generation gap movie Harold and Maude. The second shock is that Errol’s voice has broken. At 13 he is suddenly more Barry White than Aled Jones singing Walking In The Air.

Once you’ve got over these bombshells the first of six new episodes is great fun as it finds Errol meeting Andy in secret due to his father’s restraining order. Cue much hiding in toilets and under tables as friends and family pitch up. 

The subtext is about being blocked. They are blocked from seeing each other and aspiring musician Andy has writer’s block as well as girlfriend problems. To make ends meet he has taken a job in a carpet shop and has hard as he tries – abusing customers, doctoring signs – he can’t get sacked. In fact his boss Roopesh (Nick Mohammed), thinks he is showing initiative.

Oliver Refson’s script is witty and also touching – the reason Errol has bonded with Andy is not just that he is more fun, it’s that his actual parents don’t have any time for him. For me the highlights of this episode are Andy’s musical fantasy sequences, complete with short, stabby songs penned by Helm and ranging in style from punk to funk and including dancing too. For a chunky bloke Helm sure is a natty mover.

Uncle's supporting cast is strong too. Daisy Haggard is mum Sam, who is trying to carve out a career as a sympathetic therapist but suffers from “bitchy resting face”, Nicholas Burns is buttoned-down dad Ben and Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Esther Smith, both from Cockroaches, crop up as well. And by the way, that’s Con O’Neill in heavy make-up, not Noel Fielding, as some seemed to think first time round.

The last series seemed to be on a repeat loop on various channels throughout 2014. I expect the same will happen here in 2015. But be smart and catch it first time round.

Uncle, Tuesdays, 10pm, BBC3.

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