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Television Review: "After You’re Gone", BBC One, Friday 23 Feb 2007, 20:30

C*rrie and Bar*ie. Sorry, I didn’t intend to swear but you can’t deny it got your attention.

The worst television programme of all time?

This evening marks the end of the series run of BBC One sit-com After You’re Gone. It is the latest in a long line of near identical comedy shows featuring the standard father-mother-children configuration. Nothing inherently wrong with that. Not the most original concept of all time, but clearly it has proved to be inventively successful in the past. Do it well, and you get a Simpson’s, Family Guy or Men Behaving Badly. Do it wrongly, and you get a prime time BBC One travesty. Like this one in fact.

So generic it borders on self-parody, this show is either the worst in a series of absolutely abhorrent Friday night “comedies” on BBC One, or conversely a magnificent situational joke played on us all, the viewing idiot “millions”. Either way it is those who tune in to this who are the real losers in all this.

Unfortunately this isn’t a full review, as I couldn’t actually watch the whole episode. It’s just not watchable for that a full half-hour. Even in the background, even as I attempted to do something else (buffing shoes for profit), it was polluting the local vicinity with its mundane wickedness.

Featuring crap comedy stalwart Nicholas Lyndhurst playing the stereotypical cynical husband and father guy with an axe to grind, the show relies on relentless, tiresome bickering, featuring the most predictable and monotonous dialogue. Then there’s the usual female character, with a spectacular twist – the two of them aren’t married. I’m not sure exactly what relationship they share. There’s the kids who, in a stroke of scripted genius, do not actually like the father, and of course are not afraid to express as much with their complex and intricate discursive (read: irksome) range.

This is exactly the kind of comedy that Extras so brilliantly shot down in its last series.

The jokes, set pieces that completely destroy any notion of reality, obliterate any delusion that the writers might have had that their show was in some way representative of the workings of a modern British family lifestyle. It is a showcase for every bad facet of the traditional sitcom - and all without any of the good ones at all.

Either the background laughter is canned or the audience are handpicked lettuces. Nothing but the best, organically grown by the top vegetable farmers using the latest Sun Master™ Growth Lamps and high tech hydroponics technique, harvested only when they are perfectly formed, then shrink-wrapped and delivered special delivery to Studio B. They will laugh at anything, from the “funniest” moments to the genuinely upsetting bottom-of-the-barrel jokes even the writers must have cringed at. One of the biggest laughs, for instance, was when someone ordered a round of drinks. Then – hilarious – he left N. Lyndhurst to pick up the tab. I literally pissed myself.

Five minutes later, I was in a new, cleaner, pair of pants [unfortunately I missed those five minutes of comedy gold] and the anguish continued unabated.

Uniformly run of the mill and safe, the jokes are as inoffensive as possible (though paradoxically as offensive as they come). They are for the lettuces. They are for the nine-to-five mortgage owners who think a trip to a late night bar constitutes having a wild lifestyle. Do they read the Daily Mail? I couldn’t possibly resort to such stereotyping. “Look how that awfully dysfunctional family lives!”

Sorry, but who could possibly really enjoy this show?

This is exactly the sort of lowest common denominator entertainment that provides ammunition to those who place stock in the underlying stupidity of the average member of the public. After all, it stands to reason that some people must watch it, or they wouldn’t keep on reeling off one identical family comedy after the other. If no one watches it, they will go away won’t they? Wont they?!

Make them stop now please.

This show is absolute Ca*ry and B*rrie. And that is the worst insult I know. For those of us who don’t have Sky, this show amounts to an assault, the audio-visual equivalent to calling us all the child-spawn-of-a-bitch of an honorary policewoman whore.

BFOF Rating:             (nil stars)