Same music. Same cast. Same title. Yet there’s something noticeably different about the eighth series of Not Going Out.
When Not Going Out ended in 2014 with Lee and Lucy getting married at the end of series seven (The Wedding), rumours were circulating that Lee Mack would actually be bringing Not Going Out back, but wanted to turn it into a family sitcom.
A year later, Lee tested the water with a Christmas Special which saw the now married couple Lucy and Lee, expecting their first child, and getting caught up in an armed robbery in a department store.
At the end of the episode, the inevitable happened when Lucy gave birth and all went quiet about the future of the series, until August 2016 when Lee Mack appeared at the Edinburgh Television Festival.
It was there that he announced that there would be an eighth series of Not Going Out, which will now follow Lucy and Lee as parents to three young children.
Gone is the flat we’ve grown to know and love, and instead the couple live in a house with their three children.
Considering they only got married at the end of series seven and Lucy only gave birth in the 2015 Christmas special, that’s quite the fast-forward – seven years in fact.
Whether that means the previous series was set in 2009 or that the new series is set in 2023 we’re not quite sure and neither is Lee Mack! Speaking at the launch for the series just before Christmas, Lee said:
“I decided I wanted to write about my own real life, which is man, wife, and three children, and the options available to us were to slowly progress it. We had a baby at the end of the last episode, so we thought “do we progress it slowly? And then in a couple of years we have two more? And build it up over six and seven years?”
And then reality bit, which was – who the fuck am I to say that we’re going to be on in seven years? So let’s just hit the ground running and then that way we’ve already got the three kids. That’s the plan. I haven’t worked out what year it is in the show yet, because if it’s now 2016 it means it used to be 2009. Or it’s now 2023, do you see what I mean?
So as long as we don’t mention the year! But given that it’s a sitcom that’s been on 10 years, and I’ve never even had a surname in it, I think we can get away with it.”
Whilst the previous seven series might have seen an adult movie being filmed in the flat, a rabbit get run over and a lesbian couple move into the block, the new series tackles forgotten anniversaries, swearing in front of the kids, travelling with kids, trouble at school, marriage guidance and discussions of having more children.
In the opening episode, it’s the old “forgotten anniversary” story. After seven years of marriage Lee and Lucy disagree about the best way to keep the romance alive.
Whilst it’s almost always the man who forgets, Lee has chosen to write an episode where it’s in fact Lucy that forgets. Of course, not everything is as it seems and there’s a wonderful pay off at the end of the episode when Lucy takes Lee for a romantic dinner on a train.
And finally, in a rather bold move, the decision has been made to continue Not Going Out until 2019, meaning that there will be two more series, following the current family setup.
Why a bold move? Because the BBC are yet to see how the new version of Not Going Out is received. After all, it might have some of the same cast, but I’d argue that it now appeals at a different audience and regular viewers might be put off.
Not that I’ve been put off, but I’d say that I loved the first seven series more than the first two episodes of series eight. But comparing it to other comedies on television Not Going Out is still a cut above the rest and Lee Mack’s writing and comedy timing is something I can’t take away from him.
So I guess the series has just moved on and we as viewers should move along with it and embrace this new era of Not Going Out.
Not Going Out returns Friday 13th January at 9pm on BBC One