TV: Bad Move, ITV1

It's the holy grail of comedy. The mainstream family sitcom. So full marks to ITV1 – not a channel with a great track record in the genre lately – for having a crack. Whether they've totally succeeded is another matter though.

Jack Dee and Kerry Godliman play Steve and Nicky, who have swapped life in Leeds for the Yorkshire countryside. But as we meet them their rural idyll is not exactly living up to expectations. The local knife sharpener has done a runner with their cutlery and they've found that because their house is in a dip they are having difficulties getting the internet. And Steve is a homeworking web designer...

Add to this some smug self-sufficient neighbours Matt and Meena, played by Miles Jupp and Majinder Virk, and a local quad-biking rock star called Grizzo played by Seann Walsh and you've got a pretty good if basic set-up. Plus this is written by Dee and his regular co-writer Pete Sinclair, who co-wrote the Curb Your Enthusiasm-ish Lead Balloon, so they know how to carve out a decent plot.

Yet I can see the tweets already. "I'd rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon". "About as funny as penis cancer". As we've seen with the recent BBC1 Comedy Playhouse trilogy, viewers take sitcoms very seriously and it doesn't take much to wind them up. There are certainly a few bum notes here. I'm not sure why they've given Kerry Godliman a Yorkshire accent, for example.

But there are also some decent lines such as Steve calling his smug, yoghurt-making neighbours the Von Trapps and asking "where are the Nazis when you need them?". The trouble is that you have to make compromises to get a script onto ITV1 before the watershed and frankly I'm surprised Dee and Sinclair managed to smuggle that line through.*

If you are the kind of stand-up snob who prefers Stewart Lee (who has a great routine about moving to the country and facing self-loathing, lack of cocaine and boredom) then Bad Move is not going to be for you. I doubt if the broadsheet critics will like it. But if you are more easy-going about where you find your laughs give it a chance. You never know. Dee is popular, Godliman is very watchable, it might be a hit. Let's face it, like Steve's internet connection ITV1's comedy output could do with a boost.

Bad Move, Wednesdays from September 20, ITV1, 8pm.

*Although actually it doesn't quite make sense as the Von Trapps escaped from the Nazis. Maybe I'm overthinking things.

 

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