Home From Home | TV preview by Steve Bennett © BBC

Home From Home

TV preview by Steve Bennett

The latest pilot in the BBC’s Landmark Sitcom series, Home From Home is a warm, gentle affair,

much down to the likeability of Johnny Vegas as a hapless beta-male, trying his best for his family.

He plays Neil Hackett, a modest man of modest means, shown to be rather ineffectual in life: whether it’s trying to chastise a schoolboy who made rude gestures at him from the back of the bus, to the fuss he makes over wife Fiona (Gavin & Stacey’s Joanna Page) removing a splinter.

Neil is the manager of a motorway service station branch of WH Smith – both north and southbound – who has scrimped and save to buy a second home: a holiday chalet in the Lake District. ‘It’s the start of a whole new chapter for this family. Our place in paradise. Our Shangri-La,’ he tells his two sons as they sit in traffic. Of course they don’t see it that way, denied the comforts of TV reception, let alone wi-fi, but they endure. This is a family that endures.

Their neighbours in the holiday park are Robert and Penny Dillon – wealthy, educated, erudite and with a history of high-living that the Hackett’s can only envy. It’s not quite explained how such a well-resourced couple ended up here after selling their high-end Ibiza bolthole, not somewhere more exclusive, but we have to make some allowances for the rules of sitcom.

There are shades of Ever Decreasing Circles here; the relationship between Neil and Robert very similar to that of Richard Briers’s Martin and Peter Egan’s Paul. Vegas’s character might be a lot more sympathetic, but he’s still jealous of Robert’s effortless style and charisma, feeling his wife is getting a glimpse of a better life she could have had and heightening his insecurities over his failings as a man.

Despite the initial friction, the two couples get to know each other over a barbecue – where Neil brings frozen burgers even though Robert has a freshly-caught trout on the go. The sangria flows and the tensions dissolve… at least until Neil commits a major faux pas.

It provides one of the strongest laughs in a pilot episode that’s more laid-back with its comedy, its agreeable tone a perfect fit with the aerial shots of the glorious Lake District scenery. The ‘trying to get a signal from a TV aerial’ is a gag as old as TV itself, but it’s executed with considerable charm before the inevitable slapstick pratfall.

Affectionate characters and underplayed humour score in Home From Home’s favour, with a tone closer to comedy-drama than a laugh-a-minute sitcom.

• Home From Home airs on BBC Two as part of the Landmark Sitcom season at 10pm tonight.

Review date: 30 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.