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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Him and Her - The Wedding: This Criminally Underwatched Sitcom gets a suitably low-key Conclusion

Regular visitors to this site will know how much we like to highlight programmes that maybe don't get exposure they deserve. One of those shows is the criminally under-watched BBC3 sitcom Him and Her whose fourth and final series came to an end last week. The titular couple are Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani) a pair of slackers who spent the past three series in Steve's tiny bedsit doing as little as possible. The fourth and final series changed the format by having the characters leave the flat and journey to a hotel for the wedding of Becky's sister Laura (Kerry Howard) and her cheating partner Paul (Ricky Champ). Despite the change of setting, the series retains most of it what made it so great in the first place even if the central couple barely interact at all.

The first thing to say is that The Wedding is definitely the most accessible series of Him and Her to date. The majority of us have at least been to one wedding in our lives and so can relate to a lot of the awkward moments that Stephen Golaszewski included in his script. For example in episode two Steve, who is Paul's best man, is tasked with guiding the guests into the room in which the ceremony will be held. Without fail, all of the guests push the door instead of pulling it, leading Steve to open the door for every guest entering. Similarly, we've all had to sit through our fair share of uncomfortable speeches but perhaps none as squirm-inducing as Steve's inappropriate best man's speech in episode four. The series perfectly climaxed at the sweaty disco where emotions were high but everybody still had time to participate in the obligatory conga.

Obviously, long term fans of the show will know that Laura and Paul really shouldn't be together especially as he's been cheating on her since the very first episode. In fact he almost left her for a teenager at the end of series two and has recently been conducting an affair with an older man, Graham (Paul Clayton). The fact that Steve and Becky are aware of this affair doesn't stop them letting the wedding go ahead and both are convinced that Paul will walk out before things go too far. In fact Laura discovers the truth during the ceremony but still goes through with it although drunkenly informs her new husband that she'll tell everybody about his true sexuality. In the end we're left with the impression that Laura and Paul will separate after she takes revenge on him but by performing a sexual act on his biological half-brother. The fact that Laura and Paul took centre stage throughout this series was an interesting decision but it's one that did ultimately pan out. While I'm not quite sure if I was a fan of the ending of their storyline the ambiguous note lets viewers make up their own minds whether the couple finished for good or if they inevitably reunited once again.

One thing that this series lacked for me was the interactions between Steve and Becky who interacted with each other mainly through facial expressions rather than with words. It was the fact that they were separate for most of the day that made their story work so well. Throughout the series Steve was perturbed by the presence of Becky's ex-boyfriend Lee (Nick Blood) who was a lot more charming than he could ever hope to be. It was obvious from the get-go that Becky's family preferred the cocky Lee and they see the fact that Steve proposed to Becky in their flat as yet another reason that he's not good enough for their daughter. It's really only the audience who realise that Becky and Steve are more relaxed in their own company than they are in other people's. Throughout the day Lee attempts to get close to Becky and thinks he's got the upper hand when Laura discovers that Becky's pregnant and tells Lee. As he's unable to get near to his fiancée he worries about what she's got to tell her and believes she's going to leave him. But at the end of the day she lets him know the news and he's delighted even though he realises he might actually have to get a job. The fact that the couple's lack of contact didn't spoil the series is a testament to Golaszewski's script and instead he writes in a lot of facial expressions to communicate how the couple feel about each other.

If there's one character that gets left in the shuffle in this series then it's Steve's upstairs neighbour Dan (Joe Wilkinson). Dan was always a character who didn't look like he could exist in the real world and it seems that's the case. Dan has spent most of the series attempting to get extreme close-ups of guests on his video camera or creating his own drinks with the dregs left behind by others. Dan's only story revolved around his tarty girlfriend Shelley (Camille Corduri) who was often being groped by Becky's dad Nigel (Ralph Brown). The story came to a head when Shelley tried to turn down Nigel's advances only for him to berate her which in turn caused Dan to cowardly shove him. Luckily, Shelley stepped in and slapped Nigel leading him to get a rather severe nosebleed. Though this story was a satisfying ending for Dan and Shelley I just feel that the former didn't have much to do and was much more surplus to requirements than he has been in previous series.

Though Golaszewski's script is near-perfect, it wouldn't be anything without the fine performances from the great ensemble cast. Tovey and Solemani share exceptional chemistry and make it easy to believe why Steve and Becky love each other as much as they do. The pair bounce of each other perfectly and are now completely relaxed in the other's company. Solemani is also perfect in the scenes opposite Nick Blood's Lee as she tenses up a lot more and gives the impression that he was incredibly possessive during their relationship. Kerry Howard has long made Laura the villain of the piece but here you couldn't help but sympathise with her when she read the text that revealed the extent of Paul's betrayal on her. Howard's facial expressions were great and she did a brilliant job making us sympathise with someone who has been as horrid as her. At the same time Ricky Champ perfectly counterbalanced Paul's naivety with his aggressive nature to create a character who isn't really sure what he wants to do with the rest of his life. I have to say I will miss this quartet of performers and wish they'd be remembered more for these iconic roles.

The biggest problem with Him and Her is that nobody has ever seen it. It's often been given quite a late night slot on BBC3 which I feel is a little insulting given the quality of the show itself. Even this final series has been moved around in the schedules somewhat, meaning that casual viewers will have had trouble following it. I honestly think that Him and Her would be ideal on BBC2 and if it was then a lot more people would be talking about it. I don't think anyone involved really has an issue with Him and Her being a cult hit but I wish more people would find the show and watch it. If you're reading this and you've never seen the show then please seek out the DVD as by the second episode you'll be completely hooked.

Let us know what you think of Him and Her by leaving a comment below.


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