Review: The Job Lot, ITV1

the job lot

Well, you can't win them all. ITV1 might be on a bit of a roll at the moment, but I'm not convinced that new sitcom The Job Lot is going to keep up their hit rate. Then again, no living creature has ever pressed the ITV1 button on the remote expecting anything groundbreaking or cutting edge so maybe The Job Lot is the right sitcom on the right channel at the right time.

Nobody could say it was original. The action is set in a bleak West Midlands jobcentre where the boss uses a wipe board and rhyming motivational slogans and the staff bicker and argue and threaten to leave and customer service is not in their job description. Imagine a cross between Miranda and The Office but with flat Black Country accents and less falling over.

The Miranda connection comes mainly from boss Trish, who is played by Sarah Hadland, Miranda's M People-loving chum Stevie. Hadland has reinvented herself nicely here – she looks older, has darker hair and a rictus grin that gets tighter whenever she gets stressed out, which is quite a lot.

The Office connection comes from the bland, grey setting and jug-eared Russell Tovey who plays biscuit-munching Karl and constantly bemoans his lot behind the desk. Tovey was not in The Office but his early gambit of "I've got a degree, where's it got me?" is pretty much a line that could have fallen from Martin "Tim from Wernham Hogg" Freeman's script. Karl is just about to quit when he is smitten by the new temp, but there are complications afoot. Very Tim and Dawn.

There are so many subsidiary characters – Jo Enright gives good comfort-eating jobsworth – that the first episode is mostly taken up with setting up. The Job Lot follows ITV1's other new sitcom Vicious and the script here – credited to Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis and Stuart Lane – is definitely the weaker of the two. In Vicious the gags whizz around the screen and occasionally surprise you, here they are slow and fairly obvious.

It is almost as if the makers felt that the West Midlands accent was so funny in itself that actual jokes were not particularly important. The Job Lot is not terrible, but it feels like one of those ITV sitcoms that is so bland it is hard to get worked up about either positively or negatively. The best thing you can say about it is that it is nowhere near as bad as BBC1's hideous The Wright Way. The title is almost as bad though – I can't help thinking that maybe the script was bought as part of a job lot.

 

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