The Weekend's Viewing: A passable night in

Great Night Out, Fri, ITV1 // World without End, Sat, Channel 4

Great Night Out, ITV's new Friday night comedy, began with an expression of frustration at regional caricature.

Reeling away disappointed from a football match, the four Stockport friends at the heart of Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni's comedy bump into jubilant fans from the visiting team, who unleash sneers about mushy-pea consumption and Northern joblessness. Great Night Out then proceeds to replace these malignant stereotypes with more benign ones of its own, not much fresher or more directly related to the real world but a bit sweeter in their flavour. We're in the realm of an old-fashioned kind of male mateship, built on a quasi-reverence for the local team and a wary terror of the needs and desires of the women in their lives. There's a whiff of Cold Feet about the set-up, not just because of the Mancunian location, but also because this is about couples negotiating that tricky transition between liberty and commitment.

Lee Boardman plays Hodge, whose fifth anniversary supplied the basic plot for the opening episode. It's a celebration Glyn (Craig Parkinson) hopes to attend with Julie, if he can pluck up the courage to ask her, and to which Daz is going to bring Colleen, provided they can iron out her unconscionable request that he accompanies her on a company junket to Old Trafford (cue looks of horror on his friends' faces). Beggsy (William Ash) is helpfully between partners, his ex having departed to Australia with a daughter he Skypes whenever the drama needs an injection of pathos. And Ricky Tomlinson is on hand as an intrusive pub landlord who appears to have elected himself as a spare wheel.

It's likeable enough, I guess, but its comic situations are dependent on an effortful gormlessness on the part of those involved and quite a lot of indulgence from the viewer. The misadventure concerning a drunken bridegroom at the hotel where they were having the anniversary was a little too predictable to be hilarious, and the sexual politics of the thing feels either tired or psychologically unconvincing. But some of the incidental roles in the episode – a camp train guard and an over-boisterous friend who gatecrashes the party – were filled in with enough comic detail to give you hope that the series might ripen into something stronger. A passable night in, anyway.

World without End – a mini-series adaptation of Ken Follett's historical bestseller – is set in Kingsbridge, a fictional medieval town groaning under the yoke of Queen Isabella and also grievously afflicted by conversational anachronism. Ben Chaplin plays Sir Thomas, fleeing from the doubtful patronage of Isabella to claim sanctuary in a local priory ("There's a knight. He's in the kitchen," says one of the characters matter-of-factly). Sir Thomas finds himself a tug-of-war patient, pulled between the deadly ministrations of Brother Joseph ("here's a lovely dung poultice fresh from the privy") and Mattie the herbalist, played by Indira Verma as a kind of Nigella Lawson of alternative medicine. Peter Firth is the wicked Sir Roland, who waves his gauntlets around and shouts "Seize him!" in a manner redolent of deep black-heartedness.

I couldn't entirely work out what was going on in the first half and just couldn't bring myself to watch the second for further clarification. But Miranda from Sex and the City is poisoning people with mushrooms for some reason and Charlotte Riley is making cow eyes at a dispossessed local squire called Methin. My favourite moment was an informative post-orgasmic yelp from Isabella's lover Mortimer: "He's buried. We won. England's ours!" And I enjoyed Aure Atika's assaults on the English language as Isabella ("You know first and furrymost I yam your mother"). But neither were much compensation for the unfavourite moments. If you like swords and beards and chain mail, try Game of Thrones instead.

twitter.com/tds153

Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams will be given a 'meaningful remembrance' at the Emmy Awards

film
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Arctic Monkeys headline this year's Reading and Leeds festivals, but there's a whole host of other bands to check out too
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Cliff Richard performs at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam on 17 May 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Educating the East End returns to Channel 4 this autumn

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch will voice Shere Khan in Andy Serkis' movie take on The Jungle Book

film
Arts and Entertainment
DJ Calvin Harris performs at the iHeartRadio Music Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush

music
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Mark Crown, DJ Locksmith and Amir Amor of Rudimental performing on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park, Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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.

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape