THE last time BBC3 produced a bunch of drama pilots, we got the rather fab Being Human. Actually, we got the dreadful Phoo Action, which some commissioning berk thought would be better until a groundswell of Facebook opinion forced a rethink, but never mind.
So, hopes are high for the channel's new batch, and the good news is that none of them is a stinker: spooky hospital show Pulse was well received last week and last night's offerings were promising.
Stanley Park clearly aspires to the E4 mould of teenage comedy like The Inbetweeners and Misfits. Though Morwenna Banks plays a mum, as in Skins, these are not the angst-ridden, articulate youths of that show, but more gormless, ordinary adolescents who snog people at the swing park and argue about Twitter.
It's hard to sum up the premise and the plot didn't seem to have much scope, as confident, doll-faced Debbie who believes that she's sex on legs got off with the virginal twit that her more gothic friend liked. The characters seem to have more going on than could be fitted in here, perhaps because they originate from a stage play. There were some funny lines though: when the boy's parents walked in on him and Debbie, who had been snacking on crisps during underwhelming kitchen sex, his mum wailed: "I've just had that table varnished … wait, are those my chargrilled chicken crinkles?" "I couldn't help myself, they were more-ish," shrugged the vamp.
Having had her own fine sitcom, Pulling, pulled by BBC3 for being too old for the channel's demographic, poor Sharon Horgan has had insult added to injury by being cast as the past-it, lonely auntie. Ouch.
Next was Dappers, written by Catherine Johnson (who wrote the bits between the songs in Mamma Mia!) and set in Bristol with lots of lovely rolling accents.
Leonora Crichlow, of the aforementioned Being Human, and Ty Glaser play young mums on benefit, who cart their toddlers everywhere as they try to make cash and keep their spirits up.
The plot wasn't great, with a dog-walking scheme resulting in the inevitable mix up of two identical pugs, but the characters and their world already felt rounded, from the endearing girls, to their ineffective baby-fathers, the smug yuppies next door who have everything they don't and Eddie Large as a peculiar neighbour. I could happily watch more, with a bit of development of the stories and a few funnier lines.
Already commissioned for a series (unfortunately) is Lee Nelson's Well Good Show, a new comedy which is, well, bad. It's written and performed by stand-up Simon Brodkin, whose character Nelson is a cross between Marvin from BBC Scotland's The Scheme and 1980's Loadsamoney.
Lee says his catchphrase – "Qualiteeee!" – a lot, and makes the forbearing audience join in some stupid antics. For instance, a young man is ordered to choose from an array of girls with their backs to him. One is revealed to be a man with long hair, another – oh the horror! – is old, etc.
The show seems convinced that old people are intrinsically funny, it also features a lady taking her teeth out and gurning, and the regular big finale is his "nan" singing karaoke.
It's meant to be ironic, of course, but that's a feeble excuse for such an unoriginal and hopelessly unamusing embarrassment.