Friday’s TV: …Plus, you know what? It’s actually very good!

January 8, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews

PLUS ONE, Channel 4, Friday 9th January, 10:00pm Alert me

When I heard about the concept for this programme I was less than excited. A guy’s girlfriend leaves him to marry Duncan from Blue and he spends the entire series in search of a ‘plus one’ to take to their wedding. Surely it was going to equate to an overly-preened Duncan prancing around pretending to be all ironic, failing miserably to play himself while other farcical characters haemorrhaged unfunny lines about Blue? I’m tucking into my hat right now.

The show, which remarkably works very well, revolves around Rob, who seems to be suffering some form of mental episode probably stemming largely from insecurities ballooned by a culture that idolises celebs but more pressingly and apparent to him, because his ex-girlfriend is marrying Duncan from Blue.

The danger of Plus One slipping into the category of ridiculous and pant-wettingly awkward farce is defeated by its commendable story-telling technique, which is unpredictable at every turn. Just when you think you might have guessed what will happen next, Rob finds himself running a marathon to raise money for a girl in a coma who he’s only just met.

Penned by up-and-coming writing partnership Tim Allsop and Stewart Williams, the lines are sharp and well crafted and tell a story rooted in Rob’s own distortion of things, a dream world where ridiculous thoughts and fears are allowed to play out to their eccentric extreme without ending up feeling clumsy. Held together by the blissful glue of competent acting, this means the characters have depth and avoid that familiar comedy trap of becoming 2D cardboard cut-outs whose mouths merely move in order to attempt to say something funny.

Joyfully surprised to uncoil my frightened self at the moment that Duncan James entered the scene to utter his first few lines, I even leaned forward a little, just to make sure that what I was witnessing was real. He can actually act! Yes, you might point out that he’s playing himself, no biggee, but actually it is. How many cameos can you remember that have gone well? Not only this, but his Dr. Evil impression was also kind of nuanced.

If you’re staying in this Friday make sure you flick on to Channel 4 at 10pm to catch the first of what, if it continues to be as innovative with it’s storyline, could be the best thing to hit Channel 4 in quite some time.

By Susan Allen