UK TV review: Here We Go
James R | On 29, Apr 2022
Here We Go premieres on BBC One at 8.30pm on 29th April, with the full box set available on BBC iPlayer.
Laughing at the past two years isn’t something that comes easily – and yet BBC Two’s new comedy managed to find the humour in the darkest times when it debuted as a pilot at the end of 2020. Titled Pandemonium, it focused not on the tragic bigger picture but zoomed in on the tiny frustrations and absurdities that we all continue to face day-to-day, regardless of the global pandemic that has raged through our lives.
Fast forward to 2022 and the show has been retitled Here We Go and gently nudged into the wider realm of family sitcom. We’re once again introduced to the Jessops, the kind of family who were determined to go on holiday on a rainy beach in Margate in the autumn, when the pandemic upended their hopes of sunny escapism in Florida. That dogged desperation is still very much on display as we see them attempt to celebrate the birthday of Rachel, the stressed mother trying to holding everyone and everything together. Needless to say, her husband, Paul, fails at every effort to make her day special – and even buys a gift voucher to a Go Ape-like adventure centre mainly because he wants to do some archery.
Also needless to say, that doesn’t stop the family from trying to wring every last opportunity for some semblance of happy family normality – even when the voucher’s six-month window is about to expire, leaving them with mere hours to push their way past the barriers. When ensues is as absurd and awkward as you could hope – “Sorry, but it’s her birthday… six months ago.” – from frantic shouting down booking lines to a spate of dog kidnapping.
Tom Basden (Plebs, After Life) pens the script with a perfect eye for choreographing chaos, combined with a knack for capturing the everyday annoyances of living with the people you love. Family dynamics, rivalry with other parents to appear successful and even Paul’s efforts to start his own archery YouTube channel feel genuine, thanks to an underdog vibe that keeps us firmly on the family’s side.
It’s testimony to the cast that, no matter what the scenario, they remain hilarious and convincing in equal measure. The ubiquitous but ever-excellent
Katherine Parkinson plays Rachel on a knife-edge of patience with an almost haunting level of self-awareness. She’s supported – or, more often, not – by Jim Howick (who, between Ghosts and Sex Education, is on something of a roll) as the inept former Olympian, who can’t even go on a bike ride without his legs seizing up. Their relationship alone is wonderfully believable, as she tries to hide money worries from him and he smilingly goes along with what anyone says to try and keep everyone happy.
Their children – Amy (Freya Parks) and Sam (Jack Christou), whose decision to film everything gives the show its mockumentary premise – complete the household seamlessly, with Alison Steadman and Tom Basden bringing amusing awkwardness on the sidelines as Rachel’s mum and the family’s outlier uncle.
But where another show might see the group descend into selfish squabbling, what makes Here We Go work is the way it taps into the unifying effort people put in just to make it through tough times – there’s something heartwarming about the way it celebrates one family’s joint commitment to simply sticking together. From sticking up for someone at a job interview to rejoicing at the world’s least likely mini golf success, it’s an admirable, universal and highly entertaining reminder to find the positives in any situation.