Semi-Detached Lee Mack
Picture Shows: Stuart (LEE MACK). Image Credit: BBC/Happy Tramp North.

The first sitcom pilot of the year stars Lee Mack in this real-time story set over one man’s terrible half-hour (although the pilot’s only 20 minutes long).

Mack plays Stuart, a wedding DJ who has to deal with various forms of chaos around him. For starters his pregnant girlfriend April (Ellie White) has gone into labour, and the painkillers have been consumed by Stuart’s gay, drug-fuelled father Willie (Clive Russell). He ends up having to go across the road to ask his ex-wife and aspiring politician Kate (Samantha Spiro) for help.

Things become even more chaotic when Stuart finds Kate’s new partner Ted (Patrick Baladi) lying in his back garden naked, having cut his thumb off, and needing to get help from Stuart’s somewhat drunk neighbour Barry (Geoffrey McGivern). On top of this, Stuart and Kate’s daughter Madonna (Sarah Hoare) has decided to shave her head for her birthday, and Stuart’s estranged brother Charlie (Neil Fitzmaurice) suddenly arrives from the Isle of Man, bringing with him various problems with the law.

There is certainly a lot crammed into this 20 minute comedy. It certainly fits into the role of farce and does so well, with plenty of great slapstick moments. From the first moments when you see Clive Russell in bed with another guy while Ellie White is screaming in labour, you know that you are in for a wild ride. This is all followed up with the thumb crisis, featuring my favourite joke from the show – McGivern trying to help Baladi by asking how many things he is holding up. Guess which one he doesn’t hold.

I must confess that before watching Semi-Detached I wasn’t expecting much, but having seen it I’ve totally fallen for it. It was a great contained piece. Whether it can be expanded into a full series is a different matter, but I’d like to see it done.

Semi-Detached is on BBC iPlayer.