Raised by Wolves

I love Caitlin Moran. I can’t think why, but I’m rather taken with the idea of a newspaper columnist being elevated to the status of, if not quite national treasure, then at least a very well-loved monument, like Greyfriar’s Bobby or Blackpool Tower.

Her new sitcom, for which she and her sister Caroline have mined their own chaotic adolescence, comes with a lot of noise surrounding its taboo-popping depiction of teenage girls, the working classes and – TV commissioning editors of a sensitive disposition, look away now – the Midlands. But is it funny?

Sort of. One of the first gags is an in-joke for fans of 80s alt-rockers The Pixies, which suggests the Morans are aiming for the same pop-literate audience as Spaced or Community. At other times, though, the humour is so broad – randy granddad over-sharing details of his sex life, anyone? – it wouldn’t look out of place on Mrs Brown’s Boys.

The heart of the show is the relationship between Germaine – Caitlin’s hormonal hurricane of an avatar, played with appealing moxie by Helen Monks – and her sardonic, permanently appalled sister Aretha (Alexa Davies). But it’s the girls’ mother, Della (the fabulous Rebekah Staton) who gets the best lines: when younger daughter Yoko looks for sympathy after the death of her sea-monkeys, Della tells her to ‘push all that sadness down into yourself, plaster on a smile, and let’s crack on with Tuesday.’

There are plenty of jokes about periods, which may be Caitlin and Caz’s attempt to subvert the dreary cliché that women comics are obsessed with the subject. Or it may just be because they find it funny. And there’s a bit where Germaine gets her hand stuck in a letterbox, which combines a great gag about the film 127 Hours with the uneasy sense Michael Crawford might be about to turn up on roller-skates.

Raised by Wolves isn’t as sharp or vivid as Caitlin Moran’s prose. At times, it feels like it’s trying too hard to be a conventional sitcom. But it barrels along with charm to spare and, in the limited pantheon of Midlands comedies, is a lot funnier than Citizen Khan and that one with Noddy Holder.

 

 TV extra:

 

Ordinary Lies

This car showroom drama (and that’s not a phrase you hear every day) from Clocking Off graduate Danny Brocklehurst boasts an impressive cast, including Mackenzie Crook, Sally Lindsay Max Beesley, Michelle Keegan and Jo ‘How’s Adam?’ Joyner. But the first episode, in which Jason Manford’s self-pitying loser of a salesman pretended his wife was dead in order to get a day off work, struggled to get out of first gear. Neither funny nor especially dramatic, it all just felt a bit… well, ordinary. And that’s no lie.

Back in Time for Dinner     

BBC2’s experiment to fast-forward a modern family through half a century of British culinary history – from rationing to ready meals in six weeks – started by turning the clock back to the meagre austerity meals of the 50s, with hugely entertaining results. And as if the prospect of starving to death because they couldn’t open a tin of pilchards wasn’t bad enough, the Robshaws had to endure regular visits from Giles Coren – a food snob so insufferable he once claimed he couldn’t survive outside the M25, let alone in the 1950s.

Published in Waitrose Weekend, March 19, 2015

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