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Thursday, 26 April 2018

High & Dry: Channel 4's new comedy hits the ground/water running

High & Dry focuses on the survivors of a plane crash who catastrophically find themselves stranded on a remote island in the Pacific. At the centre is Brett Sullivan (Marc Wootton) – the prima donna air steward and self-proclaimed king of the island, who sees this as an opportunity to make himself a group of best friends forever. Whilst the intentions of the other survivors are very sensible (finding food and water, attracting attention to themselves), eccentric Brett is instead determined to keep his new best mates exactly where he wants them. Besides, who needs rescuing when you have Crème de la Mer? It’s the skin’s version of caviar! 

I was overjoyed when it was announced last year that High & Dry had been commissioned for a full series as I thoroughly enjoyed it the first time around when it was part of the short online Channel 4 series Comedy Blaps, back in 2015. Although I was nervous at first to see what direction the show would now take, I was delighted to find myself thoroughly enjoying it even more this time. It’s full of sharp lines, wonderful delivery and superb set-ups that turn what could’ve been a very beige, clichéd idea into something quite unique.

This isn’t solely a light, whimsical sitcom though – there are plenty of elements of shock and drama sprinkled throughout. Straight away, we’re thrust into the action with intense screaming, emergency sirens and shaky shots of a plane crashing into the ocean. Accompanied by a radio broadcast that sets the mysterious tone of just what caused the plane to crash in the first place. This show really does hit the ground running. Well, the water at least.

Comparing it to the original mini-pilot of the show, I was also happy to see that there has been much further character development. Brett continues to be the centre focus of the show, but now the other survivors around him have been given much more beef to them. Brett instantly befriends Douglas (Harry Peacock), the somewhat useless and easily led divorcee who is struggling to come to terms with the fact that his wife has left him for another man – immediately striking up a very funny one-sided and apprehensive on-screen bromance.
Then there’s Susan (Grace Rex), an on-edge and devoted Christian who believes that these events are some form of biblical trial that they’ve all been selected for. She’s not the only theorist amongst the group though, as the dim and dozy Arnab (Asim Chaudhry) is convinced that a zombie apocalypse has taken place and the world is now awash with the undead, such as the pilot (albeit for a very brief period of time until Arnab reacts quickly to “save the gang). 

Both characters have some great lines and are unusual in their approach to the situation. Instead of worrying about if they’ll survive, they’re much more focused on their wild and obscure reasoning for the plane crash.

Finally, we have Harriet (Vicki Pepperdine). A much more levelheaded and straight-talking character, she is very much the voice of reason amongst this group of misfits, which instantly causes Brett to see her as a threat. As a result, there is a fair bit of fun confrontation between the two. 

The opening episode is the perfect set-up to a sitcom - it’s a mighty introduction to the flawed characters and has a wonderful pace with strong story beats. I’m excited to see which path the show now takes with many unanswered questions having already been laid out in front of the viewer. 

Having been a huge fan of Marc Wootton’s work for many years, I’d hoped that this was going to live up to my expectations and I’m overjoyed to say that it certainly does.

If you’re after a fun, bouncy and well performed half an hour of comedy; High & Dry certainly has your back.

Contributed by Jack Kelly
High and Dry starts Friday 4th May at 10.30pm on Channel 4 

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