TV Review: The Cockfields, Gold

Gregor Fisher To Replace Bobby Ball In Second Series Of The Cockfields

In David Baddiel's new play God's Dice the lead character talks about infinite parrallel universes. If this is the case then there must be a universe where Joe Wilkinson is the superstar host of an American chat show, just like James Corden is in this universe. And Wilkinson is part of the way there here. There is a definite Gavin and Stacey vibe to three-part comedy The Cockfields, which is set on the Isle of Wight rather than South Wales.

Wilkinson is known for his oddball appearances on 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, as the postman in After Life and this childish podcast, but here he plays it pretty straight as Simon, who is taking girlfriend Donna (Diane Morgan) to stay with his family. His mum and dad are suitably sitcom eccentric - mum, played by Sue Johnston, wants to give Donna some lard and wants to give everyone gala pie, while controlling stepdad Ray (Bobby Ball) is not happy about the state of Simon's car or the angle it is parked at.

While nothing overly dramatic happens in the first episode the narrative building blocks are clearly being put in place for an eventful weekend. We also get to meet Simon's flashy biological father Larry (Nigel Havers) and his young girlfriend Melissa (Sarah Parish). The funniest character of all though is easily Simon's Alan Titchmarsh-obsessed stepbrother David (Ben Rufus Green), although their rude neighbour Andre (Jeff Mirza) runs him a close second.

It is no suprise that there are echoes of other family sitcoms here because we know so many of the cast from other hit shows, ranging from Motherland to Not Going Out and The Royle Family. But everyone here puts a fresh spin on what  might have been expected of them. Diane Morgan, in particular, does some 'proper' acting and is very different to her cheese-freezing cynical parent in Motherland.

Wilkinson wrote this with David Earl (otherwise known as warped, hapless comic character Brian Gittins) so I was expected something way more left-field. The slightly smutty-sounding title also made me prepare for something weirder, but maybe that's just how my mind works. This is actually a rather lovely, gentle, scenic comedy with characters that you can quickly warm to. I've only seen the first episode though – maybe everything goes pear-shaped in the next two parts. I'll certainly be watching to find out.  

The Cockfields, Gold, 10pm, nightly until Thursday, November 14.

Episode Two Review here.

Episode three review here.


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