Rab C Nesbitt, TV review: 'A foul-mouthed sitcom about modern-day working class life'

Mrs Brown's Boys might have won the Christmas Day ratings battle, but it didn't tackle bedroom tax, ATOS, workfare and Scottish Independence

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The Independent Culture

Rab C Nesbitt is never gloomy, despite his circumstance. After a two-year absence from our screens, the long-term unemployed Glaswegian was back for a one-off special, in his filthy headband and string vest (unwashed since the series started in 1989, no doubt) and more suited to his age than ever.

Sick of living on unlabeled tins from the food bank, Rab (Gregor Fisher) re-styles himself “Rab in hoddie” and embarks on the life of an outlaw, guided by a philosophy best summed up by the barmaid at his local: “They may take our freedom, but they’ll never take our disability living allowance.”

Meanwhile his wife Mary Doll (Elaine C. Smith) had styled herself as a ‘Girl Called Jack’-style benefits chef, creating dubious-sounding recipes, including ‘crispy fried rat’ and ‘bin-lid tempura’. Not being a “street philosopher” like her husband, Mary’s motivations were a little more prosaic; she wanted to scrape together enough cash to pay for their granddaughter Peaches to go on her school trip.

Mrs Brown’s Boys might have won the Christmas Day ratings battle, but Rab C Nesbitt is a foul-mouthed sitcom about working class family life that exists in the present - which might explain why it was shunted to an unfestive Jan 2 time slot.

While Brendan O'Carroll’s humour revolved around Mammy simulating sex with a Christmas tree (for a seasonal change), Ian Pattison’s script took in the bedroom tax, ATOS, workfare and Scottish Independence in a very funny 45-minutes.

Mrs Brown’s Boys ended with a sing-a-long of ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas’, and Rab C Nesbitt ended in similarly traditional fashion, with a kiss. A Glasgow kiss, that is. Otherwise known as a headbutt.