Was BBC Four’s new comedy There She Goes funny? No, not really. Was it an easy watch? No, not really. Did I enjoy it? I’m still not 100% sure if I’m honest. I already seem quite unqualified to be writing this review. There She Goes, which is airing on Tuesday nights at 10.00pm on BBC Four tells the story of a family dealing with the challenges presented by their 9-year-old daughter Rosie (Miley Locke) who has an unnamed chromosomal disorder which leaves her with no speech, limited understanding of those around her and the mental age of a toddler.
The five-parter comes from comedy writer and actor Shaun Pye who you may know as Andy’s smug nemesis in Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant comedy Extras. Pye, who also writes for Have I Got News for You, has penned this semi-autobiographical series and pulls no punches when it comes to showing the difficulties of family life with Rosie. David Tennant takes Pye’s role as Rosie’s father Sinon whilst Jessica Hynes shines as her mother Emily. The show sees the family in two different timelines. One focuses on the months following Rosie’s birth as the parents are convinced there is something wrong with their daughter, and another in 2006 with a 9-year old Rosie.
It’s a difficult show for me to review because it feels so personal. Who I am I to have an opinion on a show so rooted in someone’s reality? For me, the only mistake it makes is its label as a comedy.
Tennant’s character Simon, particularly in the earlier timeline, makes a lot of comments about his baby daughter that could come across quite mean-spirited. I can sympathise that the continuous challenges Rosie presents can leave him frustrated, and I’m sure a lot of it is lifted straight from Pye’s mouth, but perhaps coming from Tennant it is quite off-putting and makes him seem cold.
The show is at its best when the focus is on Jessica Hynes as a mother who is desperate to do right by her daughter, but struggling to know exactly what the best thing is. She has the same frustrations as her husband but they come from a place of love. In one particularly heartbreaking scene in this opener, sees her in tears. “It’s not that I don’t want to love her,” she says, standing beside her six-month-old’s cot. “I just don’t think I can.” She feels terrible for thinking that of her daughter and for blaming Rosie for taking the place of the daughter she was meant to have. It’s an incredibly heartbreaking scene that makes you really feel for a character you’ve spent last than 20 minutes with.
Tennant’s character never quite reaches those heights because where Emily’s frustrations result in her crying on her husband’s shoulder, Simon’s frustrations are let out through quick sarky comments. I can’t decide whether this is true to Pye or whether he felt he needed to make Tennant’s character more comedic for those expecting a more traditional half-hour comedy. There’s a joke involving the group Simple Minds which made me feel uneasy and whilst he’s not without his charms I found him a hard character to warm to.
All in all, it’s a minor gripe. The BBC, and more importantly, Shaun Pye should be commended and praised for wanting to share such a personal story with an audience. Episode two sees Emily (Jessica Hynes) struggle at a mother and baby group confessing to her mother that, ‘she hates to see normal children.’ Emily’s isolation and struggle is one rarely seen on television. I know this will ring true of a lot of parents regardless of their child’s abilities. As someone with a disability myself, I know it will ring true for my parents. Hynes effortlessly demonstrates the feeling you have when your child is different and every child around you appears perfect.
Actress Miley Locke does an incredible job as Rosie and Edan Hayhurst as older brother Ben is equally impressive. It’s an incredibly raw, emotional and important piece of television that I hope won’t be hidden away on BBC Four forever.
There She Goes Continues Tuesday at 10.00pm on BBC Four.