Did we like it?
It was like watching a bunch of your favourite aunts putting on a performance at the family’s Christmas gathering (round the log fire, holly on the mantelpiece, sherry glasses all topped up etc). You wanted them to do well but end up saddened by their collective ineptitude. Jennifer Saunders messed up big time with Let Them Eat Cake. She’s messed up even bigger time with this “sitcom” about the women of a country village.
What was good about it?
• Rosie Cavaliero was the stand-out (and youngest) star, playing bereavement counsellor Kate who received much more consolation than she handed out.
• Kate Rusby sings the theme song The Village Green Preservation Society.
• Jennifer Saunders as the flustered snob was quite amusing but hardly appeared. Saunders may have delivered a terrible script but at least she had enough sense to give herself the only decent joke of episode one, as she described an evening spent at Madonna’s country pile. “It was a lovely evening. Until Sting played the lute.”
• The woman giving a neverending slideshow about life at Lidl was funny.
What was bad about it?
• Dawn French as mentally ill Rosie gave the worst performance. Over-the-top schizophrenia in a West Country accent. And she wore a curly bloody wig. How she must have blushed when Extras was aired.
• Joanna Lumley as hunchback old crone Delilah Stagg was almost as bad. Her character was like someone you’d see in The League Of Gentlemen, but without any comic appeal whatsoever.
• We love David Mitchell but playing a heartless doctor isn’t his forté.
• We love Pauline McLynn but couldn’t give her role any oomph.
• Sue Johnston was the lead character Sal, yet she had no funny lines and just wandered around, being a bit too real, while everyone tried to make us laugh (normally by shouting the “gags”).
• Doreen Mantle just reprised her timid role from Only Fools and Horses, while Sally Phillips did that hippy chick schtick all over again.
• Patrick Barlow’s vicar was a facsimile of Rowan Atkinson’s Songs Of Praise clergyman 25 years ago in Not The Nine O’Clock News.
• The obvious gags: the lollipop lady is too nervous to stop the traffic; the nurse is scared of blood; the vicar is a pompous ass (Patrick Barlow); the Women’s Guild chairwoman is a bossy old bag; the singing in church is excruciating…
• Victoria Wood is last century’s laughtermaker. Therefore, there’s no milage left in lines such as “Her mobility scooter was side-swiped by the log lorry coming out of the Lamb and Flag.”
• The second episode ended with the line: “Super. I will inform English Heritage.” Therefore, we weren’t left laughing.
• We hoped that Friday night comedy on BBC1 might be improving when Not Going Out arrived, but Jam & Jerusalem is like Last Of The Summer Wine with frocks and marks a terrible reverse into the bad old days.