Not Going Out

Not Going Out starring Lee Mack, Tim Vine and Sally BrettonAs sitcoms go, I like the plots to be good, with a twist and verging on the farce, more than one gag a minute and an attractive female lead.

Past shows that fit this pattern are Blackadder II, Fawlty Towers (I’m thinking Connie Booth more than Prunella Scales, of course) and Joking Apart – but the modern-day oft overlooked classic that is Not Going Out can sit proudly alongside these examples.

Best described as a cross between Men Behaving Badly and Joking Apart, Not Going Out stars Lee Mack as Lee, Tim Vine as Tim and Sally Bretton as Lucy (she replaced Megan Dodds in Series 2). It’s currently three weeks away from the end of its third run, which in any normal genre would give an idea of how good it is. However as the Nicholas Lyndhurst vehicle After You’ve Gone ran for 3 series, this isn’t really a good measure of quality.

Instead – other than strongly urge you to catch it on BBC iPlayer today – explaining how good Not Going Out actually is should perhaps done based on the following metrices:

  • Quality of the writing
  • Quality of the female leads (incredibly sexist, I know)
  • Number of laughs
  • How good Lee Mack’s Eric Morecambe impersonation is

It’s probably clear by know that I can’t tell anyone via the media of blogging, text messaging or even by relating the script verbatim exactly how good Not Going Out is.  I’ve placed it in a list alongside some very highly respected series in order to compare the writing talent of Lee Mack, Andrew Collins and others with that of John Cleese, Richard Curtis, Connie Booth, Ben Elton and Steven Moffat; I’ve appealed to your sense of 1990s nostalgia laddishness by comparing it to Men Behaving Badly and your desire to see a pretty girl via the list above; I’ve even banked on Lee Mack’s Eric Morecambe impression, which he does at least once throughout the whole series.

Seriously though – forget Gavin and Stacey – that isn’t even a proper sitcom (they’re supposed to have jokes in them. Funny ones). Forget remakes of Red Dwarf and endless holidays to Benidorm on ITV, forget The Old Guys and other comfy comedies on BBC, and don’t wave Being Human at me as an example of laugh-a-minute, quality comedy.

Not Going Out covers all bases, mixing sight gags with remarkable wordplay (last night’s episode “Speech” featured an excellent pun on the pronunciation of the wine grape “Semillon”) adult humour and physical gags and frankly no one should be complaining about the quality of BBC sitcoms after watching 30 minutes of this, other than pointing out that they should all be this good.

Truly the cream of the crop. Oh and it won best sitcom at the Golden Rose of Montreux in 2007.

They don’t just give those golden roses away, you know.

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1