What to say if you liked it
A skilful spin-off of the best comedy show in the history of our chucklesome island, in which John Challis reprises, and emboldens, his turn as miserly car dealer Boycie.
What to say if you didn’t like it
A spin-off in the sense it was brutally and clumsily severed from the corpse of Only Fools And Horses and spiralled anonymously into oblivion.
What was good about it?
• The biggest challenge facing John Sullivan was to morph Boycie from the sneering spendthrift cipher he existed as during Only Fools… into a believable, profound protagonist whom the audience could sympathise with. And he pretty much pulled it off.
• Sullivan also needed to shape Marlene from little more than a catalyst stooge with whom Delboy could antagonise Boycie with (if Boycie was a “jaffa”, how
did he father Tyler?). And again, Sullivan made her much more rounded than she ever was in Only Fools….
• Boycie’s familiar exasperation at the obstacles life places in front of him.
The sharp script which provided plenty of amusing jokes. “Marlene’s gone off to a beauty spa,” declared Boycie, to which the visiting Denzil replied: “I’ve always admired her Dunkirk spirit.”
• Delboy’s influence was used sparingly, but effectively. Boycie griped that people who drop by always want a favour from him, giving the example of Delboy who’d dropped by the car dealership and flogged him “33 bottles of Latvian chanvier”.
• Boycie’s unease when it was revealed the recently released Driscoll brothers knew they were jailed on the evidence of a supergrass; and his consequent petrification when he learned they knew the identity of the sneak.
• Boycie’s stilted pleasantries towards Marlene after he quickly sold his home and business. “Hello darling, it’s wonderful to see you,” he fawned. “What’s happened!” sha snapped. “Maybe we could have an early night?” “Alright,” she countered, calling his bluff. “Get up to that bedroom!”
• After getting lost and being benignly mugged in the local pub, the Boyce clan reach their resplendent country pile late in the evening. “It’s very dark!” quailed Marlene. “It’s what they call in the country – night!” came Boycie’s answer through gritted teeth.
What was bad about it?
• It’s not that long since another comedy show used pretty much the same plot and title (Simon Day’s Grass).
• As with virtually all sitcom debuts (with the exception of Father Ted), there is an inherent stiffness and awkwardness, like an old man climbing into the bath, as the characters shuffle on display their defining traits and disappear stage left again.
Admittedly, with Boycie and Marlene the process was merely a refresher and so less onerous than introducing their son Tyler, who appeared as a whining, echoing blob of complaints, and farm manager Elgin, whose first scene was overlong.
• The ruinous effect on the jocular momentum of the canned laughter which was like trying to enjoy a pint of sweet cider whilst being pestered by a swarm of inquisitive flies.
• The theme song
• The country bumpkin stereotypes.