This week sees the start of BBC Two’s New On Two strand where the channel air a number of comedy pilots in the hope of turning one (or more) into a full series. Kicking it all off is The Other One.
Written by Holly Walsh, The Other One is about two girls called Catherine. Catherine Walcott to be precise. Sisters from the same mister if you will. A small detail that had passed them by for their entire lives until their father Colin (Simon Greenall) drops dead on arrival at his surprise birthday party at the very start of the episode.
They might have the same father, but the only things these girls have in common are their names. They couldn’t be more different.
One goes by Cathy (Ellie White), works in re-insurance, has a fiancé, a Duke of Edinburgh Award and a pension. Her mother Tess is played by the ever wonderful Rebecca Front who is left feeling angry and betrayed and is suddenly on the lookout for love. I say love, she’s basically after a good time not a long time.
The other goes by Cat (Lauren Socha), works for Deliveroo, has a pay-as-you-go phone and has recently completed Tinder. Her mother Marilyn is played by Siobhan Finneran, she smokes constantly and doesn’t work because of her condition. A condition which is only touched upon in the pilot but never explained.
It’s after the funeral, which may I add, contains an outstanding outburst from Rebecca Front as Tess, that the story really gets going as the two sisters have to join forces to scatter their father’s ashes. Once they can agree on a location of course.
It’s not often that a comedy comes along that warms your heart and makes you laugh, but that’s exactly what The Other One does. If you’re looking for a gag-a-minute laugh out loud comedy, this isn’t it. Sure there’ll be laughter along the way, but Holly’s script is far richer than just straight gags. It’s full of warmth and contains fully rounded characters with real depth, unusual for a comedy.
Of course Holly’s script is excellent, but a good script can only go so far if you don’t have the right cast bringing the pages to life and in my opinion The Other One has been cast perfectly.
Whilst Rebecca and Siobhan have a great CV when it comes to comedy it’s Ellie White and Lauren Socha who show the most potential should this pilot turn into a full series.
To date, Ellie has only really appeared in a number of small roles in comedies such as House of Fools, Murder In Successville, Inside No. 9 and The Windsors but as she proves in The Other One, her acting ability and comedy timing means that the time is absolutely right for her to step up into a leading role.
The same can be said for Lauren Socha who rose to fame in E4 drama Misfits and has only recently dipped her toe into the TV comedy world with small roles in Catastrophe and Plebs. Naturally funny, Lauren doesn’t rely on just great dialogue to deliver humour and if her performance in The Other One is anything to go by, comedy is an area of television she deserves to be a part of.
Should The Other One get turned into a full series? Absolutely. I can’t help feeling that the pilot has only scratched the surface of what’s possible with these characters.
I’d love to see some knockout scenes between Tess and Marilyn and the ongoing relationship between Cat and Cathy is one which I believe is worth continuing to explore.
Speaking at a recent launch event, Holly Walsh hinted at a possibility that should The Other One extend beyond one series, we’ll find out that Colin had more than just the two daughters and therefore as each series goes on, we’ll meet more of his illegitimate children. But will they all be called Catherine? Only time will tell. So BBC Two if you’re reading this, please do the right thing and commission a full series.