Wednesday, 24 April 2013

The Wright Way; Getting It So Very Wrong

As I don't tweet, I completely missed the near unanimous scathing attack Ben Elton's latest sitcom The Wright Way garnered last night.

Well I've just settled down to watch it.

And I lasted about 10 minutes.

It really is that bad.

I should have realised from the off, when Elton presents us with a studio based, filmed before an audience/canned laughter show commencing in a traditional kitchen set, complete with an obviously painted street view backdrop beyond its 'window' in which our hero, health and safety officer Gerald Wright (geddit?) played by David Haig (who had previously starred in Elton's The Thin Blue Line) moans about not being able to use his bathroom in the morning because he shares his home with two women. Yes, that creaky old standby for domestic humour last seen in the 80s William Gaunt sitcom No Place Like Home. But Elton has given it a modern spin, natch, and one he no doubt thinks is daringly new; because the women are Wright's daughter and her girlfriend. Yes they are in fact lesbians. Little bit of gender politics there.

There then follows a rant from Wright about the dishwasher that Elton clearly hopes is up there with Victor Meldrew and Basil Fawlty (indeed, the show's fictional setting is appallingly named Baselricky in a blatant homage to Mr Fawlty and attack on Billericay. Convincing. Not. I mean, Baselricky? It doesn't even sound like a town. It sounds like the fiction it is) It's a rant that he hopes the silent majority of repressed middle aged frustrated everymen up and down the land will rejoice over. No they won't. You're on your own Elton.

Watching this horror continue, you could be forgiven for thinking you are actually watching 'When The Whistle Blows' the spot on spoof of obvious offensive cartoonish sitcoms from yesteryear that featured in Ricky Gervais' sublime Extras. Indeed there's an entire scene whose pay off is only missing Gervias' mugging and glasses waggling. It's the one where Wright finally gets the chance to have his ablutions in the work's toilets. Except he can't operate the touch taps effectively (admittedly, this gives Haig as Wright the chance to show off some pretty amusing physical comedy, but its not enough to save this turkey) and has to rely on his obviously effete young colleague (think James Dreyfuss' character in The Thin Blue Line, Elton never one to waste anything proves he's keen on recycling) to help him. Then with pink foamy soap all over his face - don't ask - a sassy British African cleaner arrives and gets the wrong end of the stick. Oh my aching sides. All that was missing was her kissing her teeth.

There was then a scene which saw Mina Anwar, another talented performer who had previously worked on The Thin Blue Line and has stumbled into yet another Elton project (which makes me suspect that Elton has some serious dirt on these people) but by that point I'd really had enough. It was setting up some 'hilarious' health and safety jokes about speed bumps and acronyms. I left them to it. 

Anyway, hadn't Channel 4 already taken on health and safety with their pilot The Fun Police starring Rhys Darby and Vic Reeves? That one may not have set the world alight, but it was a damn sight better than this. In fact anything is better than this.

The Wright Way sits in the schedules like a foul smelling, vocally offensive and visually displeasing squatter every Tuesday at 10:35pm on BBC1, until they see sense. I would say 'until they see sense and shove it in a graveyard slot' but 10:35 already is that slot. Oh well, until they pull it mid way with a half baked promise to air the remaining episodes at some date in the future then.

I only hope Haig and Anwar escape this horror with their health and safety intact. As for Ben Elton well I can't say I give a toss about him. I find myself agreeing with David Quantick's tweet, that he clearly must have been the third wheel on The Young Ones and the second wheel on Blackadder.

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