TV: Comedy Playhouse: Static, BBC1

It must be exciting to be Rob Beckett at the moment. The BBC has recently announced that he is to star in not one but two primetime entertainment shows. And before that he stars in this sitcom pilot, which he also co-wrote with Shaun Pye.

The pitch for Static must’ve been pretty easy. London lad Rob quits his job and moves back in with parents only to discover that they have downsized to a caravan park in Margate. From there it’s just a short hop to gags about wide boys and dodgy but lovable families. Imagine Gavin & Stacey without the Stacey.

In fact G&S’s Alison Steadman is in this too as Rob’s well-meaning mum, while another Mike Leigh regular Phil Davis plays dad Gal. The latter is great casting in terms of lookalike-iness - probably the best father/son partnership since Rik Mayall and Greg Davies in Man Down.

So what about the comedy? It’s about broad as you can imagine while steering clear of Mrs Brown’s Boys vulgarity. Mostly. Rob’s parents live just off “Camilla Crescent…right up Zara Phillips Passage…” If you like your laughs to be straightforward it certainly does the job with its hooky Chinese gas canisters and over-cheesy holiday camp talent show host Hirsty (Craig Parkinson) who could’ve come straight from Hi-De-Hi.

But there are also moments which lift it above expectations - particularly a couple of timely gags about Brexit and some lovely physical humour when Rob is squeezed on the sofa between his parents while they eat their chip-based dinner off trays. 

It does feel like a throwback though, from the Chas & Dave theme tune to the Thanet setting. Did they do much site-specific research? These days Margate has turned into Shoreditch-on-Sea and is full of hipsters, though in fairness I guess the holiday camps haven't changed much. And as for the parents downsizing - surely if they were selling a London property they could’ve bought a mansion and still had enough change left to give money to both their kids (not just Rob’s brother)?

But of course this is sitcom world, not the real world. Of the three BBC1 pilots that have just aired Static easily has the most potential. To use a phrase that will probably get this metropolitan elite critic in trouble it hardly pushes the envelope but it is definitely easy to like. Though it probably helps if you can imagine you are living in 1979.

Comedy Playhouse: Static, Friday, September 15, BBC1, 10.40pm. On catch-up here.

Wedding show for Rob Beckett.

Saturday night show for Rob Beckett.

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