Tina & Bobby

With her TOWIE husband, FHM bikini shoots and near-permanent residency in the tabloid gossip columns, it would be easy to lump Michelle Keegan in with the usual OK! crowd of WAGS and reality TV wannabes. But then she appears in the opening scene of Tina & Bobby, looking and sounding for all the world like a young Elsie Tanner – earthy, sharp-tongued and with a fag on – and you realise we might just be witnessing a new addition to the ranks of distinguished Coronation Street alumnae like Sarah Lancashire, Suranne Jones and Katherine Kelly.

Keegan, who served seven years on the Corrie cobbles, is fabulous as Tina Moore, the original footballers’ wife who supported England captain Bobby Moore through his diagnosis with testicular cancer, and subsequent struggle to get fit for the 1966 World Cup.

Lauren Klee’s drama is based on Tina’s memoir, which means it’s Keegan attacking upfront, and Lorne McFadyen playing a supporting role as Bobby. In fact, just as Tony Warren conceived Corrie as the story of Weatherfield’s women and their menfolk, it’s the girls who really shine here, including Patsy Kensit as Tina’s ambitious mother (who insisted on her working-class daughter having elocution – and, for some reason, fencing – lessons). Clare Burt is also excellent as Bobby’s disapproving mother, sniffing ‘I’ve never had mash potato with a roast before’ as Tina serves up Sunday lunch.

As well as the mother-in-law, the new Mrs Moore has to share her husband with his West Ham and England colleagues – some of who even turned up on their Mediterranean honeymoon: ‘You might be his wife,’ Tina was warned, ‘but the game will always be his mistress.’

A lot of the dialogue is like that in Tina & Bobby, a lightweight but engaging drama set in a stylised, fantasy version of the Sixties – all mini-skirts, pillbox hats and swinging jukebox soundtrack.

In all honesty, the material’s probably a bit thin to do for Michelle Keegan what Cilla did for Sheridan Smith. But she’s certainly setting down a marker, and the march of the indomitable Women of Corrie shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

TV extra:

 

Not Going Out

Lee Mack’s enduring, endearingly old-school sitcom has taken a leap forward in time, with Lee and former will-they-won’t-they love interest Lucy (Sally Bretton) now married with three kids. So they’re really **not** going out – ever – while their idea of intimacy is now one of them going to the loo while the other brushes their teeth.

It’s not edgy or even original, but the cast do great work, and you can’t help but surrender to the constant rat-a-tat volley of gags.

 

Chewing Gum

The fabulous Michaela Coel is back in her double-BAFTA winning role as Tracey Gordon, the sweet, naïve convenience store assistant trying to escape her strict religious upbringing by embracing sexual liberation wherever she can find it (which is nowhere.)

Coel is a fearless writer-performer, who thinks nothing of dancing in her underwear, covered in vomit, while trying to seduce a man in the toilet of a homeless shelter. Which I’m pretty sure never happed in Open All Hours.

 

Published in Waitrose Weekend, January 19, 2017

(c) Waitrose Weekend