TV: Semi-Detached, BBC2

After his foray into live sitcom with Not Going Out just before Christmas Lee Mack is back in sitcomland with this all-star fast-paced one-off pilot in which the twist is that everything happens in real time.

And when we say everything happens we mean everything. Mack plays wedding DJ Stuart whose second wife April (Ellie White) has just gone into labour. His first wife, aspiring politician Kate (Samantha Spiro) lives over the road with a flashy hubby who accidentally chops his thumb off in the garden while building a pagoda. As you do. Meanwhile Mack's brother (Neil Fitzmaurice) pitches up and turns out to be on the run. And his daughter (Sarah Hoare) has celebrated her birthday by shaving her head (cue Ross Kemp/Yul Brynner gags). And Stuart's dad (Clive Russell) is off his head and in bed in the house with his gay lover. 

Not surprisingly given so many plotlines to cram in the one thing you can definitely say about Semi-Detached is that despite the mundane suburban setting, which could be any middle class close anywhere in the UK, it is never boring, even if it is occasionally predictable (severed digit in the frozen food, anyone?). If you don't like one narrative don't worry, another one will be along any second. Oh, and genial neighbour Geoff McGivern seems to live in his camper van on his drive so is able to watch all the action in the street unfold.

And gradually the action, written by David Crow and Oliver Maltman (a familiar actor/sitcom face himself), gets more and more absurd. Kate's husband, played by him-from-The-Office Patrick Baladi, for instance, doesn't just lose his thumb in an unlikely gardening accident but for some reason he is found rolling around in agony naked. Maybe the shock made his silk kimono fall off. Remember that Ben Miller series Worst Week Of My Life? This is a bit like that, but all crammed into 25 minutes.

watch here: www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0by0dkf

Picture: BBC/Happy Tramp North

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