Sometimes it’s the things that catch you off guard that impress the most. While suffering from Lockdown boredom it’s not just social things that are being distanced, my brain is leaving reality too. The new normal is dull, isn’t it? To make things worse there’s frankly nowt much on right now, terrestrially speaking, so I found myself watching Gregg Wallace gurn at pasties and chase swede like a hyperactive whirling dervish on Inside The Factory. Why? Because my cousin works for Ginsters and I was trying to spot him. However, the show’s main achievement was putting me off a product where Gregg’s spit was the main ingredient. These are strange times indeed. I left BBC2 on and absent-mindedly started to scroll through Twitter but blunt northern tones emanating from the idiot box soon grabbed my attention.
I recognised one voice in particular. That of the comedian Sophie Willan. I soon put my phone down because funny things were happening, I know, right? A comedy that is actually funny. And wait, there’s Jayde Adams playing Alma’s best friend. There’s also Siobhan Finneran pulling out an exceptionally unhinged performance as her mum or as she’s described “the Iggy Pop of the psych ward”.
Alma’s Not Normal is based on Sophie’s own 2017 Edinburgh show ‘Branded’. It was a deeply personal account of her upbringing. From having a mum addicted to drugs, to her own time in care and being a sex worker. If that sounds bleak then don’t worry because Willan’s comic factory has put it through the giggle blender and onto the conveyer belt of weird – thankfully Greg Wallace is not smiling creepily over it. Hilarity most definitely ensues. She’s “the baby from Trainspotting, If she’d lived” In a strange twist of TV fate Alma even buys pasties for a day trip. Spit free ones hopefully. Especially with this virus going around.
In one thirty-minute pilot Alma’s Not Normal managed to set up a fully conceived world full of charm, laughs and fried spam. The characters are colourful and loveable in their own certain way and there’s a fully conceived world that’s been instantly constructed which is bursting with new stories to tell. The BBC need to sign this up for a whole series. If Alma is the new normal than sign me the fook up.
Contributed by Michael Lee.
Alma’s Not Normal is available now on the BBC iPlayer