Did we like it?
Simon Carlyle and Gregor Sharp’s sitcom set in a Derby ice rink wasn’t flawless, but there’s enough promise to stop our interest melting away. And the timing is perfect, hot on the heels of Dancing On Ice and the Winter Olympics
What was good about it?
• The central battle between good and evil: salt-of-the-earth Jeanette (Deborah Findlay) is in charge of the wannabe Torvils, the Penguins, but she faces constant interference from haughty, spawn-of-the-devil Barbara (Marion McLoughlin)
• The setting of a dilapidated ice rink, stinking of sweaty boots, blemished by broken notices – a contrast to the glamour and sparkle of the ice skating world
• The sub-plot involving hawk called Tommy that attacked anything furry and a pigeon that splattered on the little girls from the Penguins club. It was never hilarious but provided a few amusing slapstick moments.
• Some of the dialogue was really sharp. Best moment came after Megan Marie was attacked by the hawk. “Has somebody phoned that girl’s mother, because I’ve not got her number?” “It’s on the back of the door in the Gents.”
• There were far too many Victoria Woodish lines – but we did enjoy some of them eg “Natalie’s legs have gone streaky with the St Tropez”, “He’s asked me to get Ritalin for the first aid box”. “They were queuing all the way up to the Esso,” “I put up a notice in the Asdas”, “You know first hand the damage that something fungal can do.”
• We’re pleased that Ian Ashpitel, a star of the original Family Affairs, has found a job that doesn’t involve flogging insurance
• The ongoing jokes about the overplucking Barbara’s eyebrows endured at the beauty salon. “Oh no! Chip pan fire?” “I do not even own a chip pan!”
• The ongoing jokes about the vending machines: for Minstrels, go to the men’s lavatory and press the button marked Arousers.
What was bad about it?
• There are too many characters with little comedy mileage. Least useful is Marc Wootton’s Dennis, a latterday Benny from Crossroads.
• Janice Connolly’s miserable old Inga looked like being the best of the supporting bunch, until her character was undercut when she suggested launching an appeal to send little Trisha to “The British”