Catch up TV review: Derry Girls S3, Taskmaster S13, Hullraisers, Travel Man S10
Ivan Radford | On 17, Apr 2022
Derry Girls: Season 3 (All 4)
Putting aside the fact that the government’s intentions of privatise Channel 4 are ill-conceived and nonsensical, the announcement of those intentions couldn’t have been more poorly timed, as Channel 4 serves up possibly its best week of homegrown comedy TV in its history. Top of the bill is the long-awaited return of Derry Girls, which begins its third and final season with an ominous mood in the air, as Erin, Clare, Michelle, Orla and cousin James brace themselves for their GCSE results. Their nerves result in a rushed plan to break into school to get their marks early – and the ensuing chaos is as hilarious as it sweetly poignant. Saoirse-Monica Jackson’s boisterous Erin remains an impeccably funny lead, always a perfect foil to Nicola Coughlan’s worried Clare, – “I was a scholar when I met you!” “You were 3!” – and the rest of the ensemble are flawlessly in tune with writer Lisa McGee’s brilliantly balanced scripts. That even extends to an inspired cameo appearance in Season 3’s opening episode – a moment that sets the bar wonderfully high for the rest of this run.
Taskmaster: Season 13 (All 4)
If the sight of Ardal O’Hanlon appearing in Derry Girls a few years ago had you excited, wait until you see him in Taskmaster, where his deadpan bewilderment and childlike excitement at solving problems makes him a joy to watch. He’s joined by a hugely entertaining ensemble that includes Bridget Christie (clever, frustrated, no-nonsense), Chris Ramsey (cocky, inventive, funny), Judi Love (capable of talking her way out of anything) and Sophie Duker (hilarious and almost disturbingly committed to each task). With Covid-19 restrictions over and the panel back in front of a studio audience, their willingness to trash each other’s efforts without hesitation adds a much-missed edge to the silliness, while the tasks are as fiendishly daft as ever, whether it’s an underwhelming attempt at jousting on roller skates or seeing people get very excited about finding rubber ducks in a tiny room.
Hullraisers: Season 1 (All 4)
In a week where Taskmaster and Derry Girls both return to our screens, it’d be all too easy for a new comedy series to be drowned out by the heavyweights. That, you suspect, won’t happen to Hullraisers, a hilarious new series that bursts onto the screen with all the confidence of a show that’s been running for years. Lucy Beaumont (Meet the Richardsons), Anne-Marie O’Connor (Trollied, Mum) and Caroline Moran (Raised By Wolves) are behind the show, which is based on the hit Israeli show, Little Mom, and the trio have given this UK remake a voice, style and humour all its own. Set unmistakably in the city of Hull, it’s the kind of authentic and heartfelt portrayal of working-class life that has made Sky’s Brassic such a charming success, able to celebrate and acknowledge the ups and downs of life, without looking down on any of its characters.
And so we meet Toni (Leah Brotherhead), a would-be actor and mother of 4-year-old Leah who loves her husband, Craig, but still longs for the excitement of her wild youth. She’s joined by Rana (Taj Atwal), a police officer who has never met an attractive man she wouldn’t try to pull, and Paula (Sinead Matthews), Tony’s older sister who’s more grounded than the pair of them. Their friendship is at once convincing and real, and it’s a joy to follow them through the everyday effort of juggling kids, work, family and their own sense of selves, whether it’s skipping out on school activities to go to the pub, flirting at funerals or having The Talk with a teenage daughter. Acerbic, warm and witty, expect this to get renewed before you finish Season 1 – which won’t be long, given that the whole box set is on All 4.
Travel Man: Season 10 (All 4)
Travel Man has always been entertaining as a showcase for Richard Ayoade as much as a travelogue. Season 10, though, sees Richard hang up his suitcase, with Joe Lycett stepping into his frequent-flyer shoes. Lycett, perhaps unsurprisingly, is a natural fit for the format, never taking himself seriously in a way that enables him to get on with every travel partner he finds – including, this season, James Acaster, Mo Gilligan, Aisling Bea and Katherine Parkinson. Lycett’s joyous announcement of trivia no matter how many times he’s told nobody wants to hear his factoids is only matched by his upbeat sarcasm and the result is just the right mix of information and amusement – clocking in still at only 25 minutes an episode, they remain a mini-break worth taking.