Him & Her is back on BBC 3. And fans of this bedsit comedy will be glad to hear that very little has changed, indeed almost certainly nothing has changed.
Imagine The Royle Family if Craig Cash’s Dave Best and Caroline Aherne’s Denise Best had left the Royle family home to set up in their own bedsit. Or Ideal without the blood and guts. Or what Mike Leigh would have directed had he gone into TV sit-coms rather than really real realist cinema
And like the Royle Family the outside world is only ever implied, never ventured. And also like the Royle Family this too is no blissful tale of domesticity. The Him and Her characters are more Terry and Julie than Terry and June.
Him & Her is from Big Talk Productions who have established a creative pedigree producing both films (Scott Pilgrim Versus the World and Hot Fuzz among others) and TV – on their current roster alongside Him & Her are Friday Night Dinner, Free Agent and Chickens. Past productions have included the seminal Black Books and Spaced.
Him & Her is written by Stefan Golaszewski a relative newcomer to TV comedy writing – he did write and star in the 2009 comedy series The Cowards. He studied at Cambridge University and is one of a new generation of Cambridge Footlights (University Dramatic Club). The Cowards started life on the web before moving to radio and then TV. The show was critically acclaimed – it was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA – though I have to confess it escaped my goggle-eyed attention.
His Him & Her creation has lasted longer at least than The Cowards back as it is for a second series.
Him is Steve played by Russell Tovey (who has a large TV CV but most likely if you do know him of late it will be as George in Being Human). Her is Becky played by Sarah Solemani (of Psychoville Emily fame among other parts).
I said that Him and Her is a bit like Royle Family but whereas that tended to be based in the lounge with occasional forays to the kitchen for a Cuppa and choccy biscuit, Him & Her is as likely to see Steve and Becky in the bathroom as any room. And if you think this might be Steve shaving or Becky blow-drying her hair then think again. Think toilet seat up, think toilet seat down – I will say no more.
Though we never see Steve and Becky leave their bedsit they are never usually left alone for long.
In the most recent episode ‘The Sleepover’ they are visited by Becky’s sister and the sister’s fiancée along with their mother Shelly. Later their neighbour Dan appears.
The Sleepover sees Shelly, played by Camille Coduri, crashed-out on the kitchen floor, whilst the remainder of the uninvited company are readying for shut-eye in the bedroom/living area – the uninvited all being drunk and having missed the last night-bus home.
Steve and Becky allowing them to stayover despite themselves having a ‘big-day the following day and needing to be up early’. At first I assumed that as the couple were both unemployed that perhaps one of them had a job-interview however we later discover they have rather bought a DVD box-set of the latest series of 24 and want to watch the whole of it in 24 hours! I confess this is something I have done once too and suspect am not alone in doing so?
The Sleepover episode opens with Steve and Becky debating who should retrieve a soaked toilet-roll dropped into the toilet bowl. This is not an unusual scene in Him & Her, rather all too usual! Seconds later Steve is urinating and Becky asks him if he wants any water to drink to which follows his reply another variation on men not being nature’s multi-taskers!
I can’t wee and talk at the same time!
Much of the remaining half-hour is spent watching them all trying to get to sleep – in real-time! This they fail to do as sister Laura (played by Kerry Howard) in particular cannot shut up having to share anything on her mind no matter how mundane.
Later they are joined by neighbour Dan (played by Joe Wilkinson) who has first been dumped by his girlfriend, then mugged and hit on the head with a brick and cannot bare the thought of facing his own flat alone.
This pretty much is the story-line, the importance of being idle. Him & Her is comfortable in being boring – Steve and Becky are at ease with their humdrum existence, and the show itself is untroubled by its own banality. It bravely hopes we the viewers will be happy to twiddle our collective thumbs whilst watching its thirty odd meandering minutes and won’t at any point be inclined to reach for the remote.
In one scene where Becky does an impression of Steve’s mother he counters with his impression of her mother which is basically just an opportunity for a character assassination.
‘I’m a silly little bitch, and my husband basically walks all over me, and I’ve got a shit sense of humour and I go to church’!
Another conversation follows around ghost-believing Becky and ghost-disbelieving Steve ending with Becky saying:
‘I’ve got a sixth sense for it. All the normal five senses, seeing, hearing, thinking (!) and touch. But I’ve also got ghosts’!
Later Steve discovers from Laura that her mother does not like him leading him to comment ‘that he has never had anyone dislike him before’. Alas and inevitably for him this invites a long list from Laura, her boyfriend Paul (played by Ricky Champ) and Becky herself of people who do not like him!
The Sleepover episode ends with Laura and Paul absconding Steve and Becky’s bed while they had popped out to the kitchen only for Laura to offer the remaining bed-space to her sister Becky saying it will be ‘like when we were children’ leaving Steve evicted from his own bed. Just how is he supposed to be wide awake for twenty-four hours of Jack Bauer if he can’t sleep upon his own mattress the night before!
And reader not once did I even think to reach for my remote.
- More domestic bliss from the odd couple of comedy (independent.co.uk)
- Him & Her – BBC3, 10.30pm (mirror.co.uk)