Comedy: A year in review

With the year soon drawing to a close, Alison Scurfield takes a look back at the best new and returning sitcoms of 2015.

House of Fools

Following the 2014 Christmas special, series two of Reeves and Mortimer’s weird and wonderful House of Fools aired in February, after the first series received mixed reviews. The show continued to follow the bizarre antics of Vic, Bob, Erik, Bosh, Beef and Julie, along with newcomer Rachel, as Erik’s doppelgänger girlfriend.

True to classic Reeves and Mortimer style, House of Fools continued to be as silly, yet hilarious as ever, with Julie now running a bistro, Vic, Bob and Beef going on an adventure to the moon on a giant moth, and Bosh seemingly becoming an entirely different character to series one with zero explanation. There was no shortage of crazy special effects in this series either, with surreal moments where characters would shrink down and fly out of shot at the end of a scene.

Unfortunately, however House of Fools has proved not to be to everyone’s taste, as in August the BBC announced it would not be re-commissioning the show for a third series. Has this style of comedy, then, become outdated? Is there such thing as too silly? If it makes people laugh, who cares?

Inside No. 9

Renowned for their dark humor, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith gave us the second installment of their series of individual comedy dramas, Inside No. 9 in March. Episode one titled, ‘The 12 Days of Christine’, saw Christine (Sheridan Smith) experiencing strange flashbacks, with moments from her past and present merging together.

In a clever, emotional twist at the end of the episode, revealing Christine’s life was in fact flashing before her after having been involved in a car accident, Pemberton and Shearsmith proved there is more to their writing talents than just comedy. The just as cleverly written sixth episode, ‘Séance Time’, surrounded a reality TV hoax show, in which a ghost actor turned out to be a real ghost, coming back to haunt the show’s presenter for humiliating him in a past episode.

It’s safe to say Pemberton and Shearsmith upped their game for this series, with moments to make you laugh, cry and hide behind a cushion. Evidently a success, filming for a third series began last week.

Car Share 

It was a busy start to the year for Peter Kay, with the seventeen-night live revival of his hit sitcom Phoenix Nights for Comic Relief in February, followed by the airing of his latest BBC sitcom, Car Share, in April. Simple in format, Car Share follows co-workers John (Kay) and Kayleigh (Sian Gibson) on their daily commute to and from work.

Forced together through a newly introduced car share scheme, viewers saw John and Kayleigh’s friendship blossom over the series, as they shared life stories, sang along to the ever so cheesy ‘Forever FM’, and bickered like an old married couple. Highlights included Kayleigh confusing dogging with dog walking, Old Ted and his snow shovel, and, unforgettably, ‘Lady Diana’.

There has been no news so far of a possible second series, but left with an open ending, this show has so much more to give. Effortlessly played by Kay and Gibson, with moments where the two actors couldn’t help but laugh left in.

Boy Meets Girl

September saw the arrival to our screens of Boy Meets Girl; a show derived from a BBC search for a sitcom centred around the life of a transgender character. Set and filmed in our very own Newcastle upon Tyne, Boy Meets Girl follows the heartwarming story of Leo (Harry Hepple) and Judy (Rebecca Root) in the early stages of a relationship. This series opens with Judy revealing to Leo, on their first date, that she was born male. Viewers are initially left unknowing of Leo’s reaction, but as the episode, and series unfolds, we watch the pair fall in love, with a few ups and downs along the way, along with hilarious scenes, largely between Leo and brother James (Johnny Dixon). One particularly memorable scene was Leo’s father, Tony (Nigel Betts) asking Judy’s mother, Peggy (Janine Duvitski) if she ever misses having a son, to which she replies, “I never had a son, I had a daughter who came out a bit wrong, but she did what she needed to do and now, she makes me proud every day.” Boy Meets Girl is the first British sitcom to star a transgender character played by a transgender actor, as well as episode one showing the first transgender/cisgender kiss on British television. With Eastenders following suit in casting the first transgender actor in a British soap in October, here’s hoping Boy Meets Girl will have a knock on effect in changing attitudes towards the transgender community.

Catastrophe

Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney’s Catastrophe returned for a second series in October, with the final episode airing last week. This fantastically funny show is based around the lives of Rob (Delaney) and Sharon (Horgan) who meet in a bar, have a one-night stand resulting in pregnancy and decide to make a go of it. Series one left viewers unsure of Sharon and Rob’s fate, with their relationship on the line and pregnant Sharon’s waters breaking too early. The at first confusing opening to series two, however, saw Rob and Sharon in bed together, Sharon still with a baby bump. But it was soon revealed to viewers that some time had passed from where series one left off, as she is in fact pregnant with their second child. As before, the couple’s relationship is somewhat rocky this series, but most importantly, real. From getting fired to dealing with elderly parents and friends with drug problems, all while trying to raise a family, Rob and Sharon’s lives are filled with constant drama. As well as sex. Lots of sex. Series two again ended with viewers questioning the future of the couple’s relationship, but thankfully, Horgan and Delaney have revealed that they will be making a third series. Phew.

Trollied

Now in its fifth series, Sky1’s Trollied returned in November, catching up on the daily work lives of Valco supermarket employees. With rival supermarket Lauda opening opposite, this series shows store manager Gavin (Jason Watkins) in more of a stew than ever, falling foul of Lauda manager Cheryl’s (Sarah Parish) attempts to steal Valco customers. Things have changed for assistant manger Daniel (Samuel Anderson) this series too, as him and the lovable but dim Charlie (Aisling Bea) attempt to keep their newfound love for each other secret from Charlie’s big scary boss man father Brendon (Simon Delaney). The same familiar faces returned this series, with ‘Doctor’ Brian (Stephen Tompkinson) continuing to be wound up by Margaret (Rita May), Linda (Faye McKeever) and Sue (Lorraine Cheshire) still causing havoc on the tannoy system and loved up couple Lisa (Beverly Rudd) and Colin (Carl Rice) still snogging over the tills, it’s the same gang we all know and love.

Trollied is currently on Mondays, 9pm, Sky1

It’s been a brilliant year in the world of comedy, and with the final series of student based comedy Fresh Meat, Catherine Tate’s Nan specials and new sitcom from Julia Davis, Morning Has Broken scheduled, 2016 is set for another great year of laughs.

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