Black Books, Channel 4

by | Apr 15, 2004 | All, Reviews

Bill Bailey’s Manny, who has surely claimed his place in the pantheon of comic fools alongside Baldrick, Trigger and Father Dougal, manage to persuade Bernard and Fran to go to a party in the final episode of Dylan Moran’s series.

Fran was keen to show off her new haircut, even though neither Bernard nor Manny had noticed. “Men have a way of noticing a change in appearance, and that is not noticing,” Bernard morosely responded when confronted. Meanwhile, Manny was keen on Rowena, a girl he knew would be at the party. This all took up the first part could have been condensed into a much shorter space of time.

The second half was much better and began as the trio stumbled drunkenly back into the bookshop. Manny was despondent that his romantic aspirations were ostensibly thwarted by his choice of conversation – offshore wind farms. “I couldn’t think of anything else,” he moaned. Bernard was characteristically unsympathetic towards Manny’s plight, claiming that aggressive people exclusively enjoyed a good love life, while people like Manny would never reproduce and were a “genetic cul-de-sac”.

Manny for once stood up to his irascible boss and claimed that Bernard was heartless, but Bernard played for sympathy and claimed his last girlfriend, Emma, had died. That made Manny feel guilty until Fran revealed that Emma was not dead and that was simply her ruse to get out of the relationship.

She pleaded with Manny not to tell Bernard but, rather predictably, in true Father Dougal fashion, that was the first thing he did. Bernard didn’t believe him, and this set up a brilliant sequence where Fran produced evidence to prove Emma wasn’t dead including her dental records, her birth certificate and, best of all, a photograph of Emma holding yesterday’s newspaper wearing a T-shirt bearing the legend “I Love Life” plastered over it. Bernard’s misery was complete when Rowena turned up and she and Manny disappeared upstairs to “make tea”, leaving a lonely Bernard to complain about the happy noises they were making, which was a fabulous conclusion to one of the wittiest sitcoms of the year even if this episode was one of the weakest of the run.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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