TV Review: The Reluctant Landlord, Sky One

Romesh Ranganathan has become so popular recently I'm surprised nobody has launched The Romesh Channel. If you look up the word ubiquitous in the dictionary you see a picture Romesh Ranganathan. Someone - possibly Nish Kumar himself – recently joked that Nish Kumar only gets work because there aren't enough hours in the day for Romesh Ranganathan to tick all the diversity quotas.

But enough of the lazy jokes, Ranganathan's first full-on foray into sitcom territory is well-worth watching. The Reluctant Landlord is very loosely based on his own real-life experience of briefly running a pub after his father died. The sitcom also finds Romesh echoing his stand-up persona as a harrassed dad, although he is a bit softer here. He plays the part very well, possibly because he is a fine actor, but also maybe because it is not a major stretch.

The first epside has to set up both the family dynamic and the pub dynamic and introduce the supporting cast, so there is lots going on. Car Share star Sian Gibson plays his wife Natasha, Nick Helm plays pub barfly number one Lemon, Marek Larwood plays pub barfly number two Lee (more slouching, less lines). The plots become intertwined when Natasha becomes obsessed with health drinks and vitamin supplements and suddenly, rather unbelievably, so does Lemon...

But while that storyline does occasionally feel on the contrived side – trad boozer, trad jokes – there's a decent bit of edge here too. One of the subplots is about one of Romesh's children being bullied – Romesh then has to stand up to a racist pub bully Dirty Harry played by Phil "always brilliant" Davis, to set an example. The genuinely tense showdown is an ambitious change of tone, showing that Ranganathan can go out of his usual permagrumpy comfort zone.

The Reluctant Landlord, co-written by Ranganathan, Steve Stamp (People Just Do Nothing) and Will Smith (Veep), certainly gets off to a good start then. And Sky certainly likes it. They have already commissioned a second series. Even if you are not familiar with Ranganathan – which is frankly unlikely – you should give it a try. You might well become a regular.

The Reluctant Landlord, Tuesdays from October 30, 10pm on Sky1.

Picture: Sky


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