Tv Review: Sandylands Series 1 Episode 1

Sandylands s1e1 index

Opening with a montage of footage that looks like it could have come from an nineteen eighties BBC Holiday series it makes the seaside town of Sandylands look sexy, but only very briefly as then reality kicks in and it becomes apparent it’s just a very small seaside town and has all manner of odd characters in it from a taxi driver who insists on driving around in his speedo’s to B&B owners Derek Swallows (David Walliams) and his wife Jeanie (Detectorists star Sophie Thompson) who are clearly desperate for a child of their own.

Returning to this all round oddness is Emily (Natalie Dew) whose father Les Vegas (Sanjeev Bhaskar) has gone missing. She had a fractured relationship with the man but now that he’s gone she misses him greatly, and has returned to her home town to sort out his affairs. There’s a central mystery initially as to what happened to him which is solved at the end so that the direction the show is going to take is quickly established, but before that it follows Emily around as she reconnects with old friends (well, sort of) and the guy she used to fancy.

It’s an odd affair, sometimes drenched in nostalgia as Emily remembers her childhood and it’s these scenes that are normally the funniest, with Sanjeev Bhaskar getting the chance to shine as a rather silly but likeable father, but the parts in the present day are a mixed affair. Rather than move back in to her family home Emily ends up staying at the B&B run next door to her house where the aforementioned Derek and Jeanie treat her like a long lost daughter and rarely give her a seconds peace, and while some of these scenes are funny (with Sophie Thompson proving once again to have great comic chops) David Walliams does his slightly camp and annoying character yet again to varied effect.

Also patchy is Emily’s friendship with Tina Taylor (Harriet Webb), Tina’s a coarse old thing who runs a sight seeing tour and comes out with comments like “Who’s ready for more pricks than a second hand dartboard?” and has “Carpet Diem” tattooed on her arm without realising it’s been misspelt. As with Walliams and Thompson some of her scenes are amusing enough, and the way she cares for Emily is quite sweet, but is a lot of humour revolving her character which is pretty on the nose, like when she boasts about downing a drink called “Kermit’s Mess”, a gag which isn’t funny in the first place and which becomes increasingly unfunny when Emily’s crush Nathan (Simon Bird) turns up and rambles on about penises and semen.

Directed by Michael Cumming (Brass Eye, Toast Of London) it understandably looks great given what an impressive director he is, but the script lets the affair down a little. I’ve no issue with occasional innuendo and crass humour but they go to that well far too often, and so despite having a storyline that’s quite intriguing and containing some decent actors, and it only being three episodes long, it’s not a series I plan to watch any more of.

★★★

Alex Finch.
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