TV: Sick Of It, Sky One

Video: Sick Of It – First Trailer From New Karl Pilkington Series

I've read that Karl Pilkington has said that Sick Of It is "not meant to be that funny", but I'm more than happy to review it on this comedy website. It's a lot funnier than a lot of television shows that bill themselves as comedies. There's a melancholy, bittersweet edge to it too, but it will certainly make you smile rather than frown.

Following the successful first series Pilkington returns as Karl, the deadpan, introspective cabbie. Pilkington also plays Karl's alter ego, his inner voice who jabs and pokes at Karl most of the time. It's an impressive performance – sorry, performances – from Pilkington. Unless, of course, he has a secret, identical twin brother to act alongside.

In the first episode he is looking for a carer for his ageing Aunt Norma (Sondra James). The first one doesn't quite pan out as expected and while Norma immediately takes to the second potential carer, Ruby (Marama Corlett), Karl is not so sure. She's a little bit too perfect and while Karl didn't want to be the carer he suddenly feels his most important role in life has been taken away from him. There's a tenderness to him that he hides by coming across as irritable, but it is obviously there under the surface.

Sky would probably like Sick Of It to be their version of Ricky Gervais' Netflix hit After Life (yes, I know the first series predated After Life) and there are certainly moments when the shows overlap. Particularly when we see Karl's nihilistic, misanthropic side in full effect, getting annoyed with passengers who give him directions for example. But the shows are also different in tone at times.

The script, co-written by Pilkington and Richard Yee, pulls you in without any verbal pyrotechnics. The jokes land gently among the more banal lines. When biscuit-munching Karl and his inner voice chat about nature programmes while watching the telelvision it's like an episode of Gogglebox except much wittier. 

I've got an inkling how things are going to play out, but then Pilkington may be just setting up an obvious arc to pull the rug from under the viewer. Will it be a happy ending all round? I'm certainly going along for the ride to find out. Apart from wanting to see what happens to Karl, top comic Doug Stanhope appears later in the series. Three hours of bittersweet tragi-comic beauty.

Sick of It, Sky One, Fridays from January 10 at 10pm and on NOW TV.


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