Grandma's House, BBC2
My Mum and Me, BBC3
Four Sons Versus Four Daughters, Channel 4

It's hard to avoid drawing parallels between 'Grandma's House' and 'Seinfeld', even when the BBC sitcom breaks the 'no hugs' rule

Comedian with stand-up experience but few acting skills co-creates sitcom in which he surrounds himself with seasoned performers and puts a character, whose name he shares, at the centre of a distinct lack of action. Hmmm.

There's a premise to launch Simon Amstell's post-Buzzcocks career. If only Jerry Seinfeld hadn't got there first.

That said, last week's first episode of Grandma's House made up in charm what it lacked in originality. As if that meta-premise weren't enough, such drama as there was wove itself around Simon's feeling that there might be more to life than being mean to people as the host of a pop-panel quiz show. "I'm lonely," he told his mum (The Thick of It's Rebecca Front). "How can you be?" she asked him, "when you've met Michael Bublé?"

While it's always a risky business to judge a new sitcom while it's still establishing itself, the early evidence contained many positives: seeing recognisable London-Jewish characters who didn't have to shout their cultural background; the authentic bickering warmth of extended family; and above all the performance of James (In the Loop) Smith as the excruciating Clive, Simon's mum's new shoe-polish-dyed, combed-over fiancé with a reputation as something of a "comedian" himself. "Simon doesn't like dark chocolate," announced Grandma. "Once you go dark, you can't go bark," riffed Clive to strained smiles.

A sort of smoked-salmon bagel to The Royle Family's bacon butty, Grandma's House, as if to announce its difference to Seinfeld, broke that show's golden "no hugs, no learning" rule early on, and the nature of that embrace said much about the show. "What are we doing? Oh really? Is that what we do now?" said Amstell's "character" as Clive moved in for a manly embrace.

There were other telling embraces last week, not least in the excellent My Mum and Me, a one-off documentary fronted by Tulisa Contostavlos to highlight the fact that there are some 80,000 young people in the UK looking after someone with a mental illness. Tulisa, whose mother has schizoaffective disorder, was the perfect person to walk us through their plight. When not keeping an eye on Mum, she sings in the hugely successful N-Dubz, the UK's twentysomething answer to the Black Eyed Peas (the Black Eyed Petits Pois?).

Again, the hug told you much about Tulisa. In her "multicultural London English" (or what the youth would call "Jafakin'") accent, she invited Mia and her bipolar mother Tanya into her arms with a chirpy: "Let's get emotional, people." That warmth, honesty and approachability meant Tulisa came across as a sort of urban Princess Di, reaching out to people society might otherwise sweep under its carpet.

But if we are to congratulate Tulisa's "bravery" in speaking out, do we not imply that there is a cowardice attached to any carers who are unwilling to meet their problems head-on? If only because Hannah, 15 – whose mother suffers clinical depression – was encouraged by Tulisa to join a young carers' support group, My Mum and Me could proudly add "lesson learnt" to the necessary air of touchy-feeliness.

The same could not be said of the week's other much-trailed documentary, Cutting Edge's Four Sons Versus Four Daughters. Sticking to its remit, Marian and John Tibbett swapped their four pink-loving girls for the boisterous male offspring of Karen and Steve Cafearo. And what did they discover? Boys like guns, football and go-karting, while girls like dancing, make-overs and shopping. Can I get a refund on that hour of life, please?

But while it may have ticked the box on the second half of the Seinfeld rule, the programme would not have been complete without flaunting the first. And how did Steve take his leave of someone else's four lovely daughters? "Give us a hug. See you, mate."

Arts and Entertainment
The Rolling Stones at the Roundhouse in London in 1971: from the left, Keys, Charlie Watts, Mick Taylor and Mick Jagger

Music ...featuring Eric Clapton no less
Arts and Entertainment
In the dock: Dot Branning (June Brown); Union boss claims EastEnders writers are paid less than minimum wage

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Roger Christian wrote and directed the 1980 Black Angel original, which was lost until 2011

film
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Green (Hand out press photograph provided by Camilla Gould)

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones reviewWarning: Spoilers aplenty
Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific