13 November 2010

Meet The Doyles is not at all funny

That's four hours of my life that I'll never get back. And it seemed a lot longer than that at the time.

The omens were good, the ticket offer promised "a brand new modern, fast-moving family comedy", the cast includes Will Mellor and Warren Clarke, and the team behind the show have worked on the Cosby Show, Roseanne, 3rd Rock from the Sun,The IT Crowd, I'm Alan Partridge and Green Wing.

Add to this that the tickets were free and Teddington Studio is a short walk from home it seemed like an opportunity not to be missed so one wet Friday I trudged along, collect my green armband (No. 64), went back to the pub for a quick pint then went in to the studio around 7:30.

Being a single person, and with a fairly low number, I was able to get a seat in the front row albeit on the left-hand side of the stage. Things went downhill rapidly from there.

The first problem is that, unlike all other TV recordings that I have been to, the sets are completely enclosed so all you can see in the studio audience are the wooden frames. We had to watch the takes on the monitors, and there are not many of those at Teddington.

The question you have to ask about Meet The Doyles is "why?". Family sitcoms are hardly new and the BBC already has My Family and Outnumbered which take two very different approaches to exposing the strangeness of families. Surely a "a brand new modern, fast-moving family comedy" would do something quite different?

Well, no. The family is tradition writ large, a happily married couple, a teenage girl who is just discovering boys, two younger mischievous boys, a well meaning but off-script grandparent and a brother. There is nothing unusual or unexpected about any of the characters or any of the relationships on which to hang any humour or any interest.

Part of the reason for this is that we are told so little about the people, there is simply no cover story at all. Having watched the episode I have no idea what jobs they do, how the kids are getting on at school, whether the brother is married, how wealthy they are, whether the grandfather lives with them, etc. etc. I know a lot more about the characters in My Family and I never watch it!

There was nothing unusual or unexpected in the script either. There were three concurrent plots (the father's vasectomy, the daughter and the pizza boy, and the son's theft from the local shop) none of which was particularly interesting, believable or funny.

In-between the scenes we were kept warm by Patrick Monahan. I've been warmed by Patrick a couple of times before, at recordings of Two Pints ..., but we was off form on this night and was not helped in his attempts to keep us awake by the extraordinary long waits between takes and retakes that made the evening drag on until 11pm.

The one bright spot in the whole evening was the cameo appearances from Warren Clarke as the grandfather.

It's a complete mystery to me how shows like this get commissioned. Apparently it's due on BBC TV sometime in January but on this evidence it will be on BBC Three at 2am and will sink quickly and unnoticed out of sight.


  1. I thought the show was so so funny cant wait to see it on tv!! Thanks so much for the free tickets

  2. I cannot agree with your comments about the new show my family and I go to watch - My wife, 3 kids17-16 and 16 and 17 nephews thought it was a hoot!! We loved all the characters from Grandad to teenage granddaugher and loved the british humor. We were on vacation from Albany USA and had a great night. We wish the show every success. The Taylor family. USA

  3. I went to the 1st live show (and also have tickets for the 2nd show) with my wife and we are both in our late 70's and we too live a short walk away from the studio but unlike Mr Rees we thought it was both entertaining and terribly funny and we look forward to seeing it on our screens. The only downside was the warm-up guy - felt he was running a little dry towards the end. Mr E W Smith

  4. Went last night and we also were a bit surprised that the audience couldn't actually see the set, just the back of the walls, and had to watch everything in the two screens.

    That said Patrick was on top form and worth going if only for that.

    Patrick is one of the best warm ups and really involves the audience.

  5. I thought it was absolutley amazing and i loved the two boys

  6. I attended the recording on 17 Dec with my wife and two sons, We were made very welcome on arrival and really enjoyed the evening. Will and the cast were bang up to expectations and cant wait to see the series on T.V PS when will the box set be released.

  7. I do not agree with your comments i believe that the show is very entertaining all the actors/actresses are very comical. the set has to be closed for scaning purposes, being someone who took media as an A level I understand that when filming a sitcom the camera has to be able to scan around a room if they move, therefore they cannot have audiences on display!... Besides if you dont enjoy comedy sitcoms, Why go...Well done everyone who performs on the show!

  8. Dear anonymous, you've merely confirmed everybody's suspicion that a media A level is useless. I've seen many TV recordings and this is the only one that had the sets boxed off like that. If you knew media you should have known that too. And I do enjoy comedy sitcoms, this is the only one that I've seen that has not been funny. With your media qualification you should have understood this too.

  9. I went to see the show last night with my three daughters and we all had a very enjoyable night it was so funny and we look forward to seeing all the episodes. My daughters are aged 18-22 and thought the girl who plays Chloe is a brilliant and funny actress and the two boys are fab. Mrs L Bennett, High Wycombe, Bucks

    p.s. Thanks for the free tickets!!

  10. Went to show on Saturday with my daughters (11 & 16). we all thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Chloes character is played very well by the young actress as are the two young boys.

  11. Jayne Kozlowski10 January, 2011

    Went to see the show on Saturday and really enjoyed it thought all the actors/actress were sensational

  12. I hope that whoever it is that is making up all these positive reviews is pleased that I am letting them be published but, seriously, try to make it less obvious that they've come from one person.

  13. Went on Saturday for the last episode and was a little disappointed they closed the set for some takes, although watching on the monitors you can understand why, on the whole very entertaining and Patrick was on top form. I really enjoyed watching the process, as it was the first one I've been to. Have to agree that the characters could have done with some fleshing out and some of the jokes were a little contrived but on the whole am looking forward to seeing it aired. Could do with some comfier cushions to sit on though.

  14. i do not agree with any of the coments i think mikey and steve were amazing i think the boys and chloe look amazingly alike

  15. I saw i think the 2nd recording and I thought it was brilliant, so i think what you've said is completely wrong


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