television : Comic Asides: N7 (BBC2)
REVIEWS Hundreds of characters and only five jokes. Jasper Rees is not amused
Saturday 26 August 1995
The script outed James subtly, when someone asked him how his visit to Milan went. In sitcom shorthand, just as going to Ascot or Margate pins a character on to the social map, a trip to a fashion capital equals "bent as a nine-bob note". He later erased any lingering doubts about his orientation by boasting of Herculean horizontal feats with a married man. This unblushing frankness is a breakthrough of sorts, though would have been more so had some funny lines come the character's way. But as there were no more than five of these to go round the whole cast, to allow him more than one would have been a form of patronising positive discrimination.
The geraniums belonged to Nick, the central character who talks to them for company. Go on, surely you can see the comic possibilities offered by a pair of philosophising cockney flowers? In the end, Phil Daniels and Cliff Parisi as the flowers got the lion's share of the laughs, but between gags they had their work cut out (presumably from the same piece of cardboard as the other parts). The jibe of one of them - "We're not good enough for conversation now there's vertebrates coming" - offered a rare sighting of a joke with backbone.
Nick was an unsuccessful scribe. On how you felt about a scriptwriter naming the writer in his script after himself depended on your reaction to the wider picture. From here it looked like a case of inadvertent autobiography, because Revell, like his namesake, was clearly struggling. This is partly a pitfall of working for "Comic Asides". The one-off format encourages the writer to clutter too many disparate characters and ideas into 30 minutes; after all, precious few sitcoms - and only AbFab in recent memory - hit the spot in episode one. But N7 has an aimlessness all of its own: its title refers to a London postal code, while the streets in its title sequence belong to W11.
To show the democratic spirit in which duff lines were apportioned, even characters not in the script had to take their share. The girlfriend who has jilted Nick for a Brazilian toyboy - imaginative touch, that, to make his rival latin and youthful - sends a postcard with the message: "Having a great time because you're not here." By the end of the show one of the geraniums had converted to Buddhism, and would have been able to confirm that this show was a turkey in another life.
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 People all over the world are getting semicolon tattoos to draw attention to mental health
- 3 Van driver who comforted Clark Carlisle and called 999 after suicide attempt dies age 24
- 4 James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
- 5 Baby rescued 1km out to sea after parents forgot about her
Bad luck, One Direction: Paul McCartney doubts success of The Beatles will ever be matched again
This is surely the best way to watch Jaws
The Crystal Maze: Richard O’Brien confirmed to return as more details revealed about show's rebooted format
James Blunt was special guest on the highest-rating Top Gear episode ever
Guillaume Tell's gang-rape scene caused uproar at the Royal Opera House – but the portrayal of extreme sex and violence on stage is nothing new
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture