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Sunday, 18 November 2012

The Return of Him and Her: This sitcom is as great as ever so why don't the BBC promote it more?


A few weeks ago I reviewed BBC4's brilliant hospital-set sitcom and complained how it was still languishing on a digital channel when it was a lot better than the Beeb's terrestrial output. The same can be said for the fabulous Him and Her, which returns tonight in a double bill, which I personally feel is one of the best sitcoms on TV but continues to be aired on BBC3 with very little promotion. Him and Her has a very simple format in that it looks at a young couple in Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani) who do very little but lay about in their bedsit watching trashy TV and trying to ignore their colourful friends and family members. The bane of Steve's existence is Becky's sister Laura (Kerry Howard) who has ideas above her station and his permanently engaged to the disinterested Paul (Ricky Champ) who seems to always be cheating on her. We also have Dan (Joe Wilkinson) Steve and Becky's oddball upstairs neighbour and Shelly (Camille Coduri) Laura's friend who has embarked on a relationship with Dan. 


As series three begins things seem much the same as Becky is nursing a terrible hangover while Steve returns from the shops to excitedly announce that he's bought half price crisps as well enquiring whether anyone has died on Doctors. It appears though as if Steve doesn't want this to be a normal day as he arrives with an engagement ring and a bottle of Cava which he tries to conceal in the laundry bin. As is always the way on Him and Her, chaos descends as soon as the other characters arrive with Laura and Paul turning up to announce that they're all going on a picnic together. As we heard at the end of last series Laura is now pregnant, which was an announcement she made just as Paul was preparing to leave her, and she is enjoying showing off her scan photo to her disinterested nearest and dearest. Paul meanwhile is proud of the almost invisible moustache it took him nine days to grow while he also is desperate to tell people about his friend Graham at the gym. As Becky mopes about the flat, occasionally pausing to throw up, everybody else has found Steve's ring with Laura adamant that the pair are not to be married before she and Paul are. Steve's proposal to Becky appears to be a series long storyline as he denies that he was ever going to propose but you can see in her eyes that she desperately wants to marry him. 


I think anybody who's ever seen Him and Her knows what a great show it is and the reason why is down to the fact that it's so realistic with Steve and Becky just seeming like a normal couple. Stefan Golaszewksi's writing is incredibly accurate and I'm sure everybody can identify with Becky's horrific hangover as well as her blunt reaction to all of the other characters around her. The chats about going to the gym, going for a picnic and Steve's increasingly audacious accounts of his 21st birthday also seem pedestrian but are given extra humour by the characters. In essence Him and Her is a mini-play as the action all takes place in the bedsit, or very occasionally on the stairs, with the camera often fixed between the kitchen and living room to give the viewers a perspective on what's happening. Tovey and Solemani, as Steve and Becky, have such brilliant chemistry you could almost believe that they were together in real life they also play such down-to-Earth characters which is good as they are surrounded by a cavalcade of grotesque acquaintances. Kerry Howard often steals the show as the awful Laura, who likes to laud her life over the other characters, while Ricky Champ plays Paul as an excited schoolboy albeit one who which he hadn't got his current girlfriend knocked up. Camille Coduri is adorable as the ditzy Shelly while stand-up comic Joe Wilkinson is another scene-stealer as Dan who spends most of his time literally poking his nose where it doesn't belong. 

I can confidently say that Him and Her is back with a vengeance and I just hope that more people watch it this time so hopefully it can reach a bigger audience on one of the main BBC channels. The writing and acting are both top notch while even the camera work is incredible often focusing on one of the characters who isn't part of the main conversation. The only part of this episode I had an issue with was the introduction of two of Steve and Becky's neighbours and the illicit affair they were having as I felt the series doesn't need yet another subplot. That though is a minor quibble about a great sitcom that evokes memories of both Rising Damp and The Royle Family but unfortunately will probably never be as popular as either of those due to the BBC's decision to bury it away on a digital channel. 

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