Everyone likes a good night on the tiles, and that’s what makes this new six-part comedy series such a promising prospect as the events of this Great Night Out frequently spiral out of control in spectacular and hilarious fashion.
The premise is simple: four thirty-something men gather each week for an evening of revelry in Stockport. There’s Hodge, who sees himself as the leader of the group (and is played by former Corrie man Lee Boardman); hapless Beggsy (Will Ash), whose ex-wife left him for another man and lives overseas with their daughter; Glyn (Craig Parkinson) who still harbours hopes of striking up a relationship with his high-school crush; and eternal pessimist Daz (Stephen Walters), who is always the first to put a dampener on any situation.
All bring their own personas to the party, and all seem to have an uncanny knack of having their own misadventures each week.
In tonight’s opener, the lads begin their weekend with disappointment at a football match, before would-be alpha male Hodge incurs the fury of his wife, Kath, after he manages to botch the invitations for their wedding anniversary party. While attempting to put the event back on track, he joins up with his pals and heads to the venue, only to get waylaid en route after stopping to help a worse-for-wear passer-by.
Glyn, meanwhile, gets some words of wisdom from barman Warren (Ricky Tomlinson) in his quest for romance, and ends up out of his element at a Salsa class, while Daz tries to find poetic inspiration as he tries to help a friend get over the loss of her beloved pet.
Some comedies take an episode or two to find their feet, but with Great Night Out, it all comes together from the off. It’s helped by some inspired supporting turns from comedy legend Tomlinson, Spy’s Rebekah Staton and Peep Show star Isy Suttie, but largely the interplay between the four leads is what makes it so accessible. For a blokey comedy, it has a surprising heart, evident as the lads constantly help one another through their various romantic, work and family crises each week. Of course, they invariably end up creating bigger problems in the process (a wedding which takes place in the opener makes for one such instance), but that’s besides the point.
It’s intelligently scripted with sharp lines and inventive set-ups, which justify the hour-long run-time. The unwritten rule of TV comedies - that sitcoms are half an hour, while comedy dramas are an hour - is disproved to good effect, with nary a lull in the laughs for the full 60 minutes.
Executive producer Jimmy Mulville says: “I hope we do justice to the brilliant scripts and wonderful cast. This is a laugh-out-loud comedy about friendship, love and Stockport!”
Great Night Out, STV, 9PM