Two sitcoms started on the BBC on Friday night, Tom Davis’s King Gary and this effort from Steve Spiers, a much loved actor best known for Upstar Crow and Stella, who also contributed scripts to the latter, but this is the first series he’s written just by himself. They have a fair amount in common too, as they feature a large family and a selection of eccentric supporting characters, though The Tuckers is a straighter, less broad affair than King Gary.
Set in a small Welsh town it’s mostly grittily filmed, with the location a bleak, run down place, populated by irritating types who are mostly shitty to each other. Spiers plays the main character Glyn who still lives with his mother Peg (Lynn Hunter), and who is obsessed by the fact that someone stole the wing mirrors from his mobility scooter and for dumb, annoying reasons he presumes it’s Dai (Alan David), an 82 year old with one leg, but the misunderstanding comes because Dai and Peg are secretly having a relationship.
As well as this the show follows Glyn’s sons Bobby (Ben McGregor) and Billy (Joshua McCord) who are dodgy minor criminals, and living next door is Bobby ex-wife Natalie (Alexandria Riley) who’s fucking Roberto (François Pandolfo). Roberto’s nicknamed The Italian Stallion because he once visited Italy, not because he’s from there, in a rare example of the show being mildly funny, and because he’s endlessly nice Bobby goes around and punches him. Ugh. The show wants us to feel sorry for Bobby though because, well, I don’t know, he secretly has a heart of gold somewhere perhaps, but it’s hard to see it given what a twat he is.
King Gary contained portrayals of working class characters that suffered from a surfeit of toxic masculinity and unfortunately so does this, I’m sure it’s a coincidence they both went out on the same night and were presumably commissioned at different times and by different people, but it’s unpleasant to see such a thing twice on the same evening. With The Tuckers you have two fathers who treat their sons appallingly, as Glyn’s Dad deliberately wants his son to be miserable and so tells his granddaughter to steal from him, while Glyn himself calls Bobby a pussy for apologising for punching Roberto, it’s ugly, ugly stuff and something I found painfully unfunny.
The unpleasant aspects continue when it comes to the portrayal of Peg and Dai’s relationship, Peg is shown to be a strong female character at least but Glyn’s revulsion at his mother’s sex life is grim, of course no one wants to hear about the sex life of close relations but it didn’t need to feature the scene in such a tiresome way. There’s one vaguely amusing moment as Glyn scuttles away from Dai in the world’s slowest chase, but the majority of the time this is a sitcom about people who treat each other incredibly poorly, it’s pretty damn unfunny stuff and I don’t plan to watch another second of it.
You can currently watch the episode on BBC iPlayer here.