Parents Review: Sky Hits Gold With Austerity Comedy

PARENTS: Friday 6th July, Sky1, 8.30pm

As the eurozone falls deeper and deeper into a void of chaos and blame, Sky 1 has finally given us an austerity comedy. Firmly representing Cameron’s “squeezed middleâ€? are Jenny and Nick, played by Sally Philips (Smack the Pony, I’m Alan Partridge) and Derren Strange (The Armando Iannucci Show).

After Jenny loses her job following a workplace fight, their house is repossessed by Santander (“formerly Abbey Nationalâ€? as Nick points out) and as Nick has yet to find an investor for his idea of an energy drink for executives, they are forced to move into Jenny’s parents house – along with their teenage children.

Reading this synopsis, you’d be forgiven to think that it’s just another average family-oriented sitcom, but Parents is actually one of the funniest comedy debuts of the year. The cast of characters is fantastic; From Jenny’s mother, who makes her “egg facesâ€? for breakfast – a scrambled representation of Philip Schofield and Tess Daly – to her father, played by Tom Conti, who gives a stunningly dry performance, showing utter contempt for Nick and his hapless entrepreneurial ambitions, despite the latter idolising him completely.

This mix of wise-cracking youngsters, exasperated middle-agers and hip pensioners has become very en vogue of late (Modern Family all but mastered it) but Sky have worked a good angle with all the old-timers treat everyone else like children. Coupled with a good script, it works.

Even the characters with small parts are spot on. Jenny’s sister, slapped in fake tan is a great comic addition, especially when she “helps outâ€? Jenny by giving her an angel figurine and despite being unaware of it’s religious connotations, exudes condescension. At the start of the programme Jenny meets her former boss in a Pizza Express to try and get her job back. He’s reluctant to speak to her, but he gives her a chance warning her that she must be quick, as he has “dough balls on the way.â€?

It’s all delivered with impeccable comedic knowing and the refreshingly funny start is sustained for the whole episode. There may not be any particular “high conceptâ€?, but given how entertaining this one is, such a concept would be superfluous and even the inclusion of yet another hapless sitcom dad can’t spoil things.