Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, BBC1

by | May 10, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

Vivid drama full of good characters and amusing aphorisms…

What to say if you disliked it

… but only blessed with a plot (and an implausible one at that) in the final few minutes

What was good about it?

• The use of Mud’s Tiger Feet to open the show. Sadly that was the high point.

• Ace Bhatti, one of our favourite TV actors, as Deepak Sharma, “the Prince Charming of Chigwell, with his mock Tudor palace” and a new wife Chila (Ayesha Dharker). She isn’t really into material things but pointed out: “It’s nice to have a Jacuzzi and a fully equipped utility room.”

• Laila Rouass, after lousy turns in Hollyoaks and Footballers’ Wives, comes good as Tania, the most Westernised of the three central characters. She’s working on a daily cable TV show featuring supernatural pets (an example of the jokiness that often jarred) but is desperate to break into documentaries and make a film for the prestigious Urban Stories strand.

• Indira Joshi doing yet another faultless turn as the mother who is resigned to life’s hardships but spends her time clutching at small victories. She’s the one who utters the title, but she also brags that her daughter is marrying a millionaire, and sighs: “My poor baby’s going to have the dirty done to her tonight.”

• Meera Syal doing a Victoria Wood by performing in a play what she wrote – and just about pulling it off successfully. Her character Sunita dropped out of university to marry Akaash (Sanjeev Bhaskar as a rather clichéd psychotherapist) and is now trapped by her two kids (one a teen, one a toddler) and a lousy, lowly job for a legal firm. To cope with her bitter frustration, she indulges in a little bit of quiet self harm in the bathroom (which her complacent husband fails to spot despite all those certificates hanging on his wall).

• The three witches aka the aunts who sit together, united by their disapproving glances and petty criticisms. (Our fave was the one with the spectacular specs)

What was bad about it?

• Tania’s decision to sell out her friends – and destroy their lives – by making a documentary called Love Leyton Style. It didn’t ring true that she’d indulge in such a brutal betrayal just to boost her career. But it did ring true that her production company boss would cynically, lazily suggest she abandon plans for a programme on people trafficking and make a colourful film about “your community” instead. As one of Tania’s colleagues pointed out: “The ghetto is mainstream now.”

• Deepak also became nasty just to suit the plot when he told wife Chila that he wanted to start a family: “You’re no spring chicken and I want to be fit enough to kick a ball around with my boy.”

• Although we loved the three witches, they always appear in Asian dramas so were nothing new.

• The farting horse joke, the grey pubic hair observation, the Elvis impersonator – all felt stale

• The use of the voiceover (from Tania’s perspective) which is creeping into too much TV fiction these days as an easy way for writers to set the tone when they should be able to do it through their characters

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles

10/05/2005

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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