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Review: Jason Byrne’s Father Figure comedy sitcom

Review: Father Figure. Picture: BBC

Review: Father Figure. Picture: BBC

Do you find it hilarious when small children say cheeky things like “poo!”? Do you shriek with delight when a grown man is unable to cook a meal without resorting to ironing the steak?

Do you find it wholly plausible that someone would steal a massive tiered wedding cake and bring it to a dinner party as their contribution to dessert? Do you find that watching people being repeatedly covered in food, falling over, or falling over into food makes you roll on the floor laughing? Then, just like the studio audience who go into paroxysms at every scene, you’ll love Father Figure.

A sort of combination of Some Mothers Do ’Ave ’Em and those kids’ shows where adults are constantly being gunked, Jason Byrne’s sitcom is a transfer from Radio 2. His amiable stand-up persona is replicated as hapless but well-meaning dad to smart-arse kids, husband to past-caring just-open-the-wine wife, son to overbearing parents (Pauline McLynn as his mum is more glamorous than her Father Ted character Mrs Doyle but no less a nag), friend to a wasted Michael Smiley and neighbour to some cardboard people who are only there to react in horror to his gaffes.

The show is relentlessly middle-of-the-road, determinedly populist and wholly idiotic. Were it not for the sweary-words and a few double entendres, it would be pitched firmly as family entertainment and has clearly been commissioned to try to cash in on the unexpected success of Mrs Brown’s Boys.

In its favour, I suppose it’s a bit better than 
Ben Elton’s megaflop 
The Wright Way. It will no doubt run 
for years.

In Orphan Black, an entertaining new Canadian sci-fi import, a shady young woman with a chequered past and present happens to witness the train station suicide of another young woman who happens to look exactly like her. Since the dead woman’s life initially seems less difficult than her own (it isn’t), she takes on her identity for a while to empty her bank account (as you do). But then another identical woman turns up. And another. And another. Plus, someone wants them all dead.

The hard-working Tatiana Maslany plays a multitude of characters, differentiated by 
accent (some more convincing than others) and hairstyle, and does a pretty good job of it, helped by a script which manages complicated storylines by moving quickly. The problems pile up for main character Sarah so that she’s constantly reacting to the latest crisis without much time to dwell on the implausibility of it all and holding things together is the relationship between Sarah and her annoying but loyal foster brother, Paul. Fun if slightly daft, the mystery is enough to make it worth hanging around to see just how many more accents she can do.

Going from busking to a national concert hall tour might seem just as implausible but The People’s Tenor tells how operatic singer John Craig Innes managed it, fuelled by self-belief, his life savings and a bit of luck. It’s a story almost worthy of an opera itself.

TV PICKS

Paul

Tomorrow, Channel 4, 9pm

While not part of their Cornetto Trilogy with Edgar Wright, this Simon Pegg and Nick Frost caper shares the theme of male friendship, as two sci-fi fans pick up an annoying escaped alien (voiced by Seth Rogen).

The Fried Chicken Shop

Monday, Channel 4, 9pm

Spun off from a Cutting Edge film, the cameras now go back to a busy south London takeaway for three episodes of eavesdropping on customers and staff, building up a picture of what might be the heart of the community.

Crime Thriller Club

Monday, ITV3, 9pm

Law & Order star and perennial quizmaster Bradley Walsh, below, combines both roles in this new celebration of crime fiction, which includes mystery quizzes, behind the scenes access to TV crime shows and interviews, beginning with bestselling author Harlan Coben.

animals

The Wonder Of Dogs/

Ronnie’s Animal Crackers

Thursday, BBC2, 8pm/Friday, BBC1, 7:30pm

The BBC goes dog-daft as Kate Humble, Ruth Goodman and Steve Leonard explore the history of dog breeding on Thursday, while on Friday, Ronnie Corbett seeks help for his rescue pooch and meets other animals with tales to tell.

 

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