Accidental Farmer BBC1
At this time of year it's good to have some public safety reminders. Don't drink and drive, don't text and drive, don't drink and buy a farm online. Well, we've all done it, haven't we? Got a bit drunk, logged on to the computer, made an unfortunate Facebook status update, accidentally bought a farm. Aye, the hangover is a killer, all right, especially when you realise you've now got to move to the country and learn to tend cattle - Alka Seltzer won't help you there.
This unlikely scenario is the set-up for Accidental Farmer's comedy, in which Ashley Jensen returns from being the wacky Scots pal in various American shows to get her own starring role (a pilot for a potential series). As Erin, a supposedly fearsome advertising executive ("I would never have signed off on a log," she yells at an unfortunate set dresser), she wasn't wacky at all, but hard-nosed and unpleasant, in that sitcom way where it will all melt away by the end of the programme.
Erin was not happy even before buying the farm, you see. "Don't you feel there should be more to it than this? You know, life," she told her squirming boyfriend, before wondering if she should have a child. Immediately she discovered a naked girl hiding in the wardrobe and, as no one would ever say unless it was scripted, quipped: "I see you've already had one."
Thus Erin got drunk and went online with the cheater's credit card, ordering first four extra-large pizzas - whoo hoo! - then a 150,000 Yorkshire farm on "e-Buy.com," who apparently don't let anyone cancel their purchases. She was going to re-list it, obviously, until cheating ex laughed at the idea and thus an unlikely, unbelievable story came to pass.
Haven't we seen this somewhere before? Monarch Of The Glen, for instance, with Alastair Mackenzie trying to run a Highland estate, or Two Thousand Acres Of Sky, in which Michelle Collins moved to an island off Skye. You could almost predict what would happen: Erin turning up at the rundown farm in high heels, squealing as a pig emerges from the kitchen, ineffectually herding cows, crashing the tractor, falling over in mud, falling over from kicking a fence, then eventually falling for the animals and farm life.
There is an array of quirky local characters, because anyone who lives out in the country must be eccentric according to TV law. There's the plain-speaking old lady, the adorable children, the drunken cowhand, the horse-obsessed neighbour. There is literally nothing new here: the pig that thinks it's a dog from Babe, Sally Phillips reviving her role as Bridget Jones' best friend (and when will she get her chance at a lead role in a dopey comedy?).
There's also the potential love interest, Shaun Dooley as a mild-mannered vet, whose role is to make big cow eyes at Erin as if he were one of her herd. Within seconds of meeting, she has sobbed on his shoulder then helped him castrate a bull.And there's a silly nefarious plan to turn the farm into a hotel and a pointless breakout of the old lady from a nursing home and the ex boyfriend suddenly turning up to apologise and propose. Although well performed, the whole thing was so deeply, deeply unoriginal it was hard not to groan at every creaky plot twist. It'll probably run for five series.