BBC Three – available from 22nd October 2016
Created and written by: Patrick Ness
Directed by: Ed Bazalgette
A DOCTOR CALLS
Arriving in a blaze of hype and publicity this third recent-times spin-off from the BBC’s flagship sci-fi drama may suffer from the most bland and unimaginative title ever, but it does boast perhaps the strongest continual link to its parent show, set as it is in Coal Hill Academy, a stalwart of the long-running serial right up to its most recent run, with Clara Oswald and Danny Pink both teaching there, and even the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) briefly becoming a caretaker.
… Keep Scuttling!
BBC Three, 10.30pm, Wednesday 11th November
Written by: Josh Widdicombe and Tom Craine
Josh Widdicombe has gone and done a Jack Whitehall; working his way up from stand-up comedian and UK panel-show regular to (co-)writer and star of his own sitcom. Like Bad Education before it, Josh also sees the youthful leading man ostensibly playing himself. And it’s broadcast on BBC Three – a station surely no longer in danger of going online-only, given how many new shows they continue to green-light?!
“Smoking and Kissing” was an interesting opener, insofar as it felt very much like a comfortable middle-of-the-run show rather than a concept-solidifying debut. Not that there is much to “get” from the situation – three single 20-somethings share a flat which is regularly visited by their sad-sack landlord – but it wasn’t until I did a web-search that I discovered that Josh received a 15minute pilot episode last year as part of BBC Comedy Feeds.
Personally, I would have liked to have seen this introductory short either repeated or expanded into a “proper” first episode, if only to re-instate the premise that Josh is stuck living with childhood best friend Kate (the cute Beattie Edmondson) and fact-loving Welshman Owen (Crims’ Elis James) because he was kicked out by his fiancée – a topic which was never raised in this episode.
Set-up quibble aside, the premiere’s plot – that Josh is nervous of attending a pool party because he never learnt to swim, while Kate is bewildered to discover she has a reputation as a bad kisser – was simple but not bad; the two disparate narrative stands paralleling nicely rather than intertwining as sitcom storylines often do.
Things occasionally felt a mite contrived (a chlorine allergy is a perfectly sensible medical reason for not learning to swim, rather than embarrassing due to ineptitude), but not to the determent of the machine-gun-style humour.
Much like Josh’s unrefined, natural approach to acting, the banter-driven nature of the comedy does grow on you as the episode progresses; Welshman Owen’s random factoids and Kate’s university nicknames being two prime examples of repetition and the building of jokes to laugh-out-loud crescendos.
Jack Dee’s turn as irritating landlord Geoff wasn’t really given enough time to convince me his inclusion is essential to the show’s dynamic, his kitchen-based swimming lesson feeling a little crowbarred in, but it also didn’t put me off from tuning in again next week to see how these hapless characters continue to amble through their days.