TV: The Other One, BBC2

While BBC1’s current Comedy Playhouse series of pilots has had a mixed response, it is hard to fault the first one-off in this new BBC2 mini-season, New On Two.

The Other One, written by Holly Walsh, puts a fresh spin on the old odd couple format with two Catherine Walcotts played by Ellie White (Inside No 9, The Windsors) and Lauren Socha (Misfits, Catastrophe) meeting when they discover that they have the same dead dad, who turned out to have two very different families.

The comedy initially comes from their differences. One is trailer trashy and Tinder-obsessed, the other stuck up and repressed. They decide to go on a road trip to scatter dad’s ashes and actually start to bond. In one touching scene it turns out that despite having very different upbringings their father used to play the same song to them in the car.

There are some lovely lines here. When it is suggested by one Catherine that they scatter the ashes in the local playground sandpit the other Catherine says: “Do we really want children playing in our dead dad?” Every time the script sails close to class cliché it manages to pull something different out of the bag.

And for a half hour piece there’s a lot going on here. Quietly distraught posh mum Tess played by Rebecca Front (The Thick of It, War and Peace) is trying to get back on the dating scene to make up for lost time, while a subtext finds posh Catherine’s useless boyfriend Marcus (Amit Shah) getting embroiled in a dick pic scandal. And familiar face Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey, Happy Valley) is very good as the thoughtless but nice chain-smoking rough mum Marilyn who keeps dad’s ashes in an inappropriate tin.

Quite why this has been relegated to BBC2 is a bit of a mystery. OK, it’s no Mrs Brown’s Boys, but it’s an absolutely accessible culture-clash comedy with something for everyone. It does feel a little like a self-contained play, but if the BBC doesn’t find a way to make this into a series I’ll be thinking twice about paying for my TV licence next year. 

The Other One, Wednesday September 13, 10pm, BBC2. Watch on catch up here.

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