Some of you may remember that back in March 2013, it was announced that Peter Kay was to star in his first ever BBC sitcom, Car Share.
The idea was that it would premiere on BBC iPlayer first in its entirety (in a Netflix way) before moving to BBC One.
Fast forward over 2 years and finally the sitcom is here. Co-written by Tim Reid and Paul Coleman, the six-part series follows what happens when a supermarket (without a name but looks a lot like the one that rhymes with Al Fresco) sets up a new car share scheme.
Peter Kay (Phoenix Knights) plays assistant manager John Redmond, and promotions rep Kayleigh Kitson is played by newcomer Sian Gibson. They are both forced to commute together every day, and after John has a bit of trouble with the sat nav, the two of them have to try and get along. Each episode/trip brings fresh insight into John and Kayleigh's lives, with twists and turns in their unlikely relationship.
The series opens with a somewhat predictable sat nav sketch, where John is sent round in circles, asked to do a u-turn whilst in the middle of the road and asked to go straight when he reaches a dead end, as he looks for Kayleigh's house. However once he finds her, the series really gets going and the cliches are left behind.
Car Share takes place almost entirely in John's car, a nod to some of the very best sitcoms that have taken place in one location, such as The Royle Family or The Office. Being restricted to one location allows comedy to arise from a number of situations.
There are lots of brilliant funny moments in Car Share, from the mundane to the ridiculous. For example, in the first episode, we're treated to a radio advert for a hairdressers that "...don't just cut your hair. [But] make love to it.", and before that we witness Kayleigh squirting urine all over John from a sports bottle that contains her sample!
When news broke of this sitcom, Peter Kay talked about how "...the idea of two people car sharing to work each day really appealed to me, as it highlights the comedy in the minutiae of the daily trek and allows the spiralling conversations of life to unwind in all of their glory."
As a nation we already know and love Peter Kay of course, and he does not disappoint. But the biggest surprise of the series for me is Sian Gibson who plays Kayleigh. As an unknown TV actress, she plays the character of Kayleigh brilliantly and the chemistry between herself and Kay on screen is a joy to watch.
There are a few other characters who appear in Car Share, such as her dogging neighbour or the hunky new trolley collector, but ultimately it's about the relationship between John and Kayleigh, so the casting had to be right, and the Gibson/Kay partnership really works.
The tone of the piece is perfect, it's relatable, heart-warming and like all good comedies should be, genuinely funny. I have to admit that when Car Share kept being pushed back by the beeb I couldn't help think it was because it was no good. But actually, it's the opposite and was definitely worth the wait. It's really good, shows a lot of promise and after each episode leaves you wanting more.
There are two ways of watching Car Share; you can binge on the whole lot from Friday 24th to Tuesday 28th April on BBC iPlayer (very tempting I'm sure), or you can choose to watch it in the more traditional way, every Wednesday evening on BBC One.
Quite why the BBC have decided to push this series in such a way, I'm not entirely sure. Perhaps they're trying to reach a younger audience, after all, it's a technique BBC Three used last year for Chris Lilley's Jonah From Tonga.
For too long now BBC One have relied on Miranda (which finished last year) and Mrs Brown's Boys (which only returns for Christmas specials) and more recently Citizen Khan (which isn't everyone's cup of tea). So it's fair to say that there is a definite gap for another mainstream BBC One sitcom, and I think Car Share definitely has a chance of filling that gap and becoming their next big sitcom. I've only seen the first three episodes, but I really can't wait to watch the rest.