Last night saw the first episode of Happy Hollidays, the new sit-com from Effingee Productions for BBC Scotland. I am loathe to judge any series after only one viewing but it is going to take a comeback of Lazarus proportions for this to be any good. The writing team of Simon Carlyle and Gregor Sharp wrote the one-off No Holds Bard which was part of this year’s Burns’ night viewing, and were also involved in the 2001 comedy Terry McIntyre Classy Bitch, which had writer Carlyle taking the title role. While neither of these comedies could be called memorable, compared to Happy Hollidays they’re Father Ted.
Poor writing left a normally reliable cast with nowhere to go except exaggerate and enthuse as if they were in panto. Only Gavin Mitchell’s camp inspector (no, not in that sense) was exempt, (although he did seem to be doing an impression of Agent Smith from The Matrix films), which made it appear as if he had walked in from a different show. But I think the major problem can be found with the leading man, Ford Kiernan. It may be coincidence, but since he and former partner Greg Hemphill split it appears that Kiernan is content to do the same character over. The parkie in Dear Green Place is remarkably similar to his character of Cronie Cameron in No Holds Bard, and makes a reappearance in this caravan park based caper as Colin Holliday. Perhaps Kiernan is being stereotyped by the parts on offer, but the likability that could be found in characters such as Ronald Villiers or Jack in Still Game has been misplaced. A comedy grotesque only works if the audience is sometimes empathetic, for example Basil Fawlty or David Brent.
As a memory of how good he has been here’s a clip from the live performance of Still Game filmed at Cottiers Theatre in 1999:
(Just in case any body’s intrigued by the thought of a show called Terry McIntyre Classy Bitch there’s a YouTube channel dedicated to it. It’s www.youtube.com/user/fanofthetanzy , but don’t come crying to me.)