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Thursday, 31 May 2007

Mumbai Calling, ITV1

Did we like it?
This was a very promising start for this brand new ITV sitcom. Now there's a sentence we never envisaged writing in our lifetime. Based in a Mumbai call centre, it was an enjoyable half-an-hour, with much thanks to the wonderful Sanjeev Bhaskar. This man can do no wrong.

What was good about it?
• Blimey, there were some laughs, many of the characters were not caucasian and, but for one brief lapse, there weren't any unnecessary celebrities involved. We had to check three times to make sure this really was an ITV sitcom.
• There were some tried-and-tested Goodness Gracious Me-style lines in there, where characters awkwardly tried too hard to hide latent prejudice, which we enjoyed, although one or two were a bit too obvious. "I'm going to send you back where you came from," threatened Ken Gupta's (Bhaskar) boss. "Wembley?" he replied, perplexed. We can easily forgive that, though, because the first episode of a sitcom has to be one of the hardest things to execute perfectly and everything is almost necessarily heavy-handed.
• We also enjoyed the Family Guy-style flashbacks, which were not only funny but were a decent way of showing a little back story to the characters. For example, we were shown how Daddy's girl Tiffany, miffed at not being allowed to work, was given her first job by her Dad - as a paper-girl driven to the front door of every house by a chauffeur.
• Tiffany, cousin Anthony and Ken were all sent to sort out a struggling call centre in Mumbai. Once there they met with smooth and unscrupulous Dev, who was enjoyably over the top and had one or two good lines. When intorduced to Tiffany he replied: "Like the breakfast, isn't it?"
• There were some nicely judged lines from the call centre staff as well, "I'm a Watford fan too, sir," lied one.
• Dev calling Ken 'Son of an owl'.
• Ken claiming everything was to be done by the book from now on: "We'll log all calls, problems will be referred to as challenges - everything."

What was bad about it?
• Twiggy's cameo was awful. She's bad enough on America's Next Top Model but she was dreadful here, and pointless. We hope this isn't a theme whereby every week a 'celebrity' will make a cameo call to the call centre.
• While Dev's character was nicely exaggerated and quite fun, layabout thick-o Anthony was just irritating, like a cheap knock-off of Daphne's tiresome 'English' cousin in one of Frasier's rare moments of miscalculation. Hopefully his character will calm down as the series progresses.
• The fact that ITV had to announce at the end of the show that the hapless flood hotline featured in the programme ("Don't worry, madam, it's only an emergency") was fictional and nothing like the real flood hotline in the UK. Thanks for that.

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