We really are being spoilt at the moment with high-quality TV comedy. The BBC has This Time with Alan Partridge and Fleabag currently airing, Channel 4 has Derry Girls and Home, and now Timewasters is back on ITV2.
The first series of Daniel Lawrence Taylor’s time-hopping sitcom saw a struggling jazz band get stuck in the 1920s after stumbling across a time machine in Peckham. This time around, the group are travelling to the 1950s − the era of the Windrush, Teddy Boys and the dawn of Rock n’ Roll.
At the outset of the new series, the band have all but given up on music and gone their separate ways. Horace (Samson Kayo) is mourning his nana, Jason (Kadiff Kirwan) has found religion, or rather got engaged to a woman who’s deeply religious, and Lauren (Adelayo Adedayo) is “regional sales manager for a dairy-free cheese firm”. Jazz-mad Nick (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) appears to be the only one who hasn’t let go and is keen to get the band back together…
Trying to go back in time by just a week so that he can stop his nana from falling down the stairs, Horace accidentally lands himself and his friends in 1958, where they’re immediately greeted by the sight of graffiti saying ‘Keep Britain White’. Nick despairs: “Why are we never taken to a decade when black people are liked?” Lauren responds: “What decade would that be??” And it isn’t long before they’ve unwittingly prevented Horace’s grandparents from meeting, which causes him to turn into a white, ginger man called Martin (played byDaniel Rigby). Meanwhile, Jason is reunited with his 1920s lover Victoria, now played by Anna Chancellor, and Nick is less concerned with Horace’s predicament than he is with the booking he’s got for the band at a renowned jazz club.
Whereas in series 1, Nick was always the one most desperate to return to the present, in the 1950s he feels a lot more at home and wants to use the opportunity to meet some of his musical heroes. The second episode involves him trying to set up his own jazz club, which of course backfires, while a woman who is seemingly a Russian spy (played by Ellie White) becomes suspicious of the group’s 21st century technology.
The first series of Timewasters was an enjoyable watch and earned itself a BAFTA nomination for Best Scripted Comedy, but on the strength of these first two episodes, the second series is even funnier. The cast deliver top-notch performances (with this and Famalam on BBC3, Samson Kayo is undoubtedly one of the best comedy actors on TV at the moment) and the script has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments, including a great exchange about Back to the Future and the running joke of Nick’s nerdy, borderline creepy obsession with jazz.
With the ability to transport its characters to any time in the past or future, Timewasters has endless possibilities, and its black central cast allows for a new, interesting spin on the time travel genre. Daniel Lawrence Taylor recently revealed that he has been talking to LL Cool J about a potential US version of the show, and here’s hoping this won’t be the last we see of it in the UK too.
Timewasters series 2 begins Monday 11th March on ITV2 with a double bill of episodes from 10pm