TV: Not Going Out Halloween Special, BBC One

Is Lee Mack trying to muscle in on Inside No 9 territory? This Halloween edition of the enduring light-hearted domestic sitcom has scarier ambitions than usual. It is even scheduled later than it usually goes out. Although don't worry too much about the kids having nightmares. I'm sure they watch nastier stuff on their phones in bed.

The episode, co-written by Mack and Danny Peak, involves the family trick or treating, only for Lee (Lee Mack) to leave his phone outside the local creepy house. After the rest of the clan gets home he has to go back for it and before you can say Scooby-Doo he's locked in the house with a ghostly zombie-like figure coming after him. Will he or won't he make it out alive?

And that's basically the plot. The usual family members don't do much in this one-off except look ghoulishly good in some very hi-spec make-up for a suburban family. But Lee's dad (Daddy Mack? Mack Daddy?) Frank (Bobby Ball, pictured) does turn up as Count Dracula to make the situation worse but funnier. 

It's an interesting departure for the series that likes to shake things up a bit - they did a live episode a while ago and I suppose this is more of a dead episode. There are less laughs than usual but that's intentional. instead they opt for a few genuine shocks here as the plot plays around the well-trodden cliches of the chiller genre. I genuinely thought at one point maybe they are going to go really dark and actually kill Lee's character off. After all, this is already one of the BBC's longest running sitcoms - that would be a great way for Not Going Out to bow out. Except I then remembered it has been recommissioned until 2022 and they are hardly going to continue without their star turn.

Not Going Out Halloween Special, BBC One, Wednesday, October 30, 10.35pm.

Picture: BBC/Avalon/Mark Johnson

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