What an absolute joy this was, and with a cast that reads like the Who’s Who of the comedy world, it couldn’t go wrong, particularly given that Jennifer Saunders writes the script.
I don’t know quite how I’ve managed it, but I’ve missed series one and two entirely, so having watched last night’s opener to series three, I know what box set I’ll be asking Father Christmas for this year.
Everyone plays their parts marvellously; Sue Johnston, Pauline McLynn, Sally Phillips, David Mitchell, Maggie Steed, Dawn French, Susie Aitchison and Rosie Cavaliero combine to create a formidable tour de force, and it’s utterly believable and exceptionally funny. Watching the show made me want to relocate to Clatterford in Devon immediately if not sooner…
Unless you’ve ever lived in a small community and therefore witnessed for yourself the dynamics of such insular living – where the outside world is only something you hear about if you watch the news – you might not think the scenarios and characters are believable, but I have, and they are. In fact, when the show opened and we saw Rosie – aka Dawn French – with her lamb, I did have to wonder if in fact Rosie was based on me…
Yes, that’s me, feeding a lamb whose mother had rejected her. I didn’t, I hasten to add, breastfeed it, choosing instead to bottle feed. Bad for baby it might be, but even I have limits, unlike Rosie.
Sue Johnston is brilliant as the borderline bohemian mum and village nurse Sal, who I have to say doesn’t look old enough to play the mother of David Mitchell’s character, James. Mind you, I suspect even as a baby, David probably looked middle aged. But he’s a master of rapier wit and can deliver deadpan in a manner that few others can.
Pauline McLynn is a special treat as the wisecracking, fun loving pub owner Tip, who’s often Sal’s only ally, and it was so last night when Sal discovered that someone was about to build on the field behind her house. Initially, the community backed her when she planned to stop the build, but when Rosie spilled the beans that the new owner would be Charles Dance, support fell away as visions of “worshipping at the altar of Charles Dance” filled the heads of the locals, and in particular, Maggie Steed’s character Eileen, a big fish in the pond of the Women’s Guild.
In the meantime, Sal set up a drop-in clinic from her own home which caused suspicion that she was actually on the game, James was being groomed as a potential MP and Tash and Spike were doing up the old mobile library van so that they could live in it.
If you missed it last night, you can watch it here on iPlayer. It’s well worth an hour of anybody’s time.