Roger (Alfred Molina), an occasionally rash, socialist botanist and Val (Dawn French), a logical, gentle food technology teacher, have just got in from work. And for half an hour after this, we’re allowed an insight into their lives. Their silly, lovely, broken lives.
In Episode One, Roger and Val need to find a guarantee for their broken hoover, or they won’t be able to return it. Sure, it’s no 24 in terms of suspense or action, but they’re getting perilously close to having to tackle ‘The Big Drawer’, so sit down, shut up and enjoy the edge of your seat. After all, Roger is going off on one of his numerous rants about how he’s proud of opting for a family-run business, even though a corporation wouldn’t need a guarantee to sort their problem – a moral conundrum, indeed. Meanwhile, Val finds a rock in The Big Drawer that Roger got her on one of his trips. Eventually, they decide that finding a guarantee, a paltry piece of paper that decides whether or not you’re allowed a working hoover, is a waste of time. Then they find it. That’s kind of what you’re in for every week. And make no mistake: it is wonderful.
Molina and French could not be more perfect, or more real. Written beautifully by Beth and Emma Kilcoyne, the couple share their successes (“I’ve done the dishwasher”), their failures (“I thought she was there, but it’s just an upside down brush”), their jealousies (“Margaret Taylor has exactly the right degree of coat for all weathers”) and their entire lives, as seemingly trivial and, in the later episodes, heartbreaking, as they may be. They tackle every problem (from a family member in hospital to accidentally picking up noodles instead of curtain hooks) with nothing less than true affection and devotion to one another.
Roger and Val is precise, light-hearted and perfectly executed. It manages some of the most warmly mundane and tearfully beautiful moments you’ll see on TV, all in six half-hour episodes. It is one of the most pride-inducingly English two-handers ever committed to the small screen. Now put the kettle on, get the biscuits, tissues and curtain hooks, and fall in love.