TV: Hold The Sunset, Sunday, BBC One, Episode 2

It's funny how sitcom plots have a habit of overlapping. Last week in Mum there was a sixtieth birthday celebration, this week in Hold The Sunset there's a seventieth birthday celebration. Both involve big bright banners, both involve pub lunches, but that's where the similarity ends.*

Since the first episode of this new love-in-an-old-climate went out there has been much talk about whether Hold The Sunset is any good. The ratings were impressive, though it remains to be seen if they stay that way - there might have been a lot of curious Fawlty Towers fans who won't stick around. And the cast – mainly John Cleese, Alison Steadman, Jason Watkins and Rosie Cavaliero as neighbour, mum, son and ex-daughter-in-law – was generally praised while the script was judged by some to be pretty geriatric.

I assumed that an older audience might appreciate something undemanding reflecting their aches and pains back at them on a Sunday night but when I suggested on social media that the over fifties might be the only ones laughing I was quickly put in my place. "I'm over fifty, thought it was dreadful-I turned it off before the end. Waste of time." "I'm 66, nearly 67, and didn't find it funny either. I prefer  for laughs." "I’m over 65, found it utter tripe, full of cliche and utterly boring. Won’t be watching again. Oh and please don’t tar us oldies with the same brush. 

Well, that's me told. So where does Hold The Sunset go from here? It's no Father Ted, no Derry Girls. But that doesn't mean it's awful. It's no Wright Stuff either. It's just hackneyed and sentimental, following the romance of Phil and Edith as they cope with Edith's middle-aged son Roger returning home just as they were about to leave. It's kind of OK, but critics aren't allowed to say things are kind of OK. You either have to piss yourself or kick in the TV. 

There are some good extra cast members introduced in episode two – Anne Reid as a tarted up contemporary of Edith and No Offence's Joanna Scanlan as Roger's sister. Watkins' Roger is a textbook overgrown child - he still builds model planes in the shed. I'm in the same age ballpark as him and when I was a kid people I knew were more likely to be sniffing Airfix** than sticking Spitfires together with it.

But I digress. It's a soft, gentle predictable script given half a kiss of life by a 24 carat cast. Of course there are better things on TV. And better things to do on a Sunday evening at 7.30pm. But I'm sure there are some people out there who like it. Though if they aren't the over-fifties who tweeted me saying it was shite I do wonder who they were.

*Or maybe not. As this review pointed out, both star women well-known for their work with Mike Leigh.

**Don't try this at home

Hold The Sunset, Sundays, BBC One, 7.30pm.

 

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