Sarah Kendall’s a superb stand up comedian whose storytelling show was one of the best that I saw back in 2016, where she weaved various tales from her past together in a fascinating manner. So I was eagerly awaiting her first tv series, an hour long comedy drama which is a completely fictional work and along with Kendall stars the likes of Diane Morgan, Robert Webb, Kerry Armstrong and Kerry Godliman.
The first half of the show works really effectively too as it sets up the story, where Simone (Kendall) rushes to hospital only to discover that her husband Nick has died of a heart attack. It’s a bleak way to begin, yes, but Kendall generates a lot of very funny moments in this opening section from the reasons for Nick’s heart attack (a mixture of drinking so much alcohol it’d put most in a coma, a sod load of drugs, petrol sniffing, along with the minor fact that he was experimenting with asphyxiation during sex with a prostitute while he had a phone up his arse) to Simone’s meeting with said prostitute which sees Kerry Godliman in a very funny cameo.
After telling her two kids Tess (Maggie Ireland-Jones) and Lenny (Frazer Hadfield) that their father’s dead, but reassuring them that “Nothing is going to change” that turns out to be a massive lie as her lawyer Rufus (Robert Webb) reveals that Nick had committed corporate fraud and they need to sell everything (which given how rich they were is a hell of a lot), and even then it might not pay off all his debts. This section is really strong too, with a great running gag about The Thompson Twins performing at Nick’s funeral while Simone’s responses to the increasingly awful news were damn funny too.
After losing everything Simone heads off with the kids back to her mother’s home in Australia and it’s here that the episode started to disappoint. There were still a few decent jokes but a lot of the humour revolves around people swearing at each other and her strained relationship with mother Jean (Kerry Armstrong) and brother Jim (Ben Mingay), while there’s also a fair amount of okay but not that amusing bits of culture shock with the kids struggling with their new lives. Lenny’s an especially unlikeable character and though this is intentional and will hopefully change as the show develops it’s frustrating that we get to see so much of him being an arsehole as it’s not fun to watch at all.
At least the show picks up towards the end of the first episode as Simone (or Sammy, as she’s really called) starts looking for a job and applies for a selection that she’s completely unsuitable (and unqualified) for, before getting an interview with the local MP, Chris George (George Houvardas) who she knew from school, where she also meets in the form of Diane Morgan’s secretary Fiona a much needed likeable character, who’s sarcastic but caring and finally someone who seems to actually like Sammy.
It’s not your typical riches to rags story admittedly and the first half was so strong that I hope that the decline in the second was just due to scene setting and introducing a whole host of regular characters very quickly. Kendall’s an incredibly talented writer and shows herself to be a great actress here too, and everyone else is on good form, so just as long as it stops relying on swearing and shitty behaviour for laughs then this could be a fantastic series.