Do Not Disturb | TV review by Steve Bennett

Do Not Disturb

TV review by Steve Bennett

WARNING: Contains spoilers

Gold’s attitude to commissioning original comedy – and hoorah that it does so amid all the reruns – seems to be to order short runs and see what the reaction is. Even so, it’s hard to know quite what to make of the one-off farce Do Not Disturb.

It’s a perfectly dependable, if old-fashioned example of the form – lots of men sans trousers and women in their suspenders – but nothing to suggest you might want to return to these frequently flimsy characters.

It’s set in seemingly genteel Stratford-upon-Avon, with the camera panning over riverside scenes and Shakespearean statues over the opening credits. Then we see a young man in period costume chunder into the bushes. The tone is set.

Our action takes place in that classic farcical setting, a hotel, where estranged husband and wife Anna (Catherine Tate) and John (Miles Jupp) both end up in the same room, independently figuring that since it was paid for before their split, so they might as well use it. The marriage, it soon transpires, fell apart when she had a fling with a much younger man, and they quickly decide they might try a reconciliation.

But, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a younger man asleep in the bathroom, a remnant of a stag party. Well, hello, plot…

A sequence of misunderstandings naturally ensues, though the format is episodic: one credibility-stretching thing after another, rather than an escalating sequence of events ratcheting up the jeopardy that the protagonists are powerless to stop. 

Also, isn’t the victim of a farce supposed to plunge deeper into the ordure because of some character flaw that stops them acknowledging a small mistake?  Yet when Tate’s Anna is enthusiastically shagging someone else, with her husband locked out the room, it’s hard to see her as an unfortunate victim of circumstance. Especially as her character motivation had, until then, been to patch up the marriage, full of contrition that she might have screwed her life up.

Still, Tate makes as good a job as always of the contradictory role while Jupp can add another notch to his bedpost of emotionally repressed middle-class characters he’s nailed. And not in that way… you have to be careful with double entendres when writing about shows like this. Speaking of which,  creator Aschlin Ditter (co-writer of Mr Sloane) isn’t above a  ‘coming’ joke worthy of a 13-year-old, nor gags about small dicks.

Car Share’s Sian Gibson and  comedy favourite Steve Edge have less success with the even blander characters of hotel receptionist Sheila and cleaner/porter Neil respectively. There’s a nice bit of possible romantic tension between the pair, but it’s under-explored. 

Do Not Disturb is a perfectly serviceable hour of television, reasonably diverting, reasonably entertaining. But as a one-off you might expect something more of a landmark offering. In truth is you’d be better off with almost any  episode of Frasier, for  those guys REALLY know how to do great farce.

bull; Do Not Disturb is on Gold at 10pm tonight.

Review date: 27 Jan 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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