Outnumbered Christmas Special Review
OUTNUMBERED CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: Sunday 27th December, BBC1, 10.30pm ALERT ME
I don’t know why, but there’s something about steadicam, improvising children and lack of canned laughter I find hilarious.
This original set-up for a sitcom ends up working pretty well, although it’s fair to say that the kids definitely ‘outnumber’ the adults in terms of humour. After all, what is discussing insurance over a robbery compared with, ‘That dinosaur you made… looks like a jelly fish that’s been in a fire!” Genius.
So it’s boxing day at the Brockman’s and no-one’s really doing much. Pete (Hugh Dennis), in a shirt that’s had an unfortunate accident with a pigeon, is constantly chopping brussell sprouts (must be the left overs) while mum Sue (Claire Skinner) has a permanent startled expression on her face.
It’s not until five-year-old Karen (Ramona Marquez) appears with her new year’s resolutions list that the humour starts to snowball. “I will not chew my duvet, I will not call people idiots, mum won’t nag me.” This is followed by, “You always say things like, ‘I will learn Italian’ but you never do it, but if you don’t stop nagging you’ll just do it in Italian!” The logic of the ‘Best Female Newcomer’ at this year’s British Comedy Awards is hard for her mother, or indeed the audience, to contend with.
Less amusing is seven-year old Ben (Daniel Roche) who complains about his arm getting stuck in a radiator and exclaims things like, “What is it with adults and pants?” And his dialogue about the cons of robbers is slightly lengthy. Also disappointing is the lack of screen time for twelve-year-old Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), who spends the whole episode justifying the downloading of illegal music. Although it is pretty illegal for a twelve-year-old. I digress.
There always seems to be a token annoying character in a sitcom and this time it’s Jane, who arrives an hour early for some ‘hilarious’ reason in an equally annoying red jumper. Mundanely complaining about her ex-husband (although one text message she shows to Pete seems to change his whole view of her – one too many ‘I hate you. LOL’ s perhaps?), she doesn’t get funny without the help of Karen, who implores why Jane has decided to adopt her a goat for Christmas (she would). “So it’s not actually a Christmas present to me; it’s a Christmas present to some sub- Saharans.”
Meanwhile, Sue is on the hunt for grandad, who’s escaped for a pint with friend Mac from their old age home. While it doesn’t seem there’s much wrong with the former, Mac has such a thick scottish accent it causes Karen to ask, “Is he Albanian?” and “What do you mean, a ‘wee’ bit?” An amusing scene, if only for the nod to childhood innocence. But he did have a thick accent.
Sorry to ruin a (mostly) sparkling review but the ending is more than weak. I won’t spoil it by telling you what happens but it involves charades, singing and an electronic hand. This is an example of improvisation gone wrong. A reflection of the Christmas season overall, then.