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I TALK Friday Night Dinner (Series 2)

Turning a Jewish tradition into a sitcom was perhaps never an easy task but Friday Night Dinner has managed to do just that in spectacular fashion.

Based around the Jewish tradition, where every Friday night the family would get together for dinner, the series was written and created by Robert Popper whose previous credits include Peep Show, The Inbetweeners, Him & Her and my personal favourite The IT Crowd.

With a list of credits that good there was never any doubting his credential I guess and with the might of producer Kenton Allen and big Talk Productions behind him the show was bound to become the hit has now become.

Friday Night Dinner returns on a Sunday night, confused? Me too, considering it did so well the first time around in the obvious Friday night slot.  Anyway, scheduling issues aside let's get into the new series of this very funny comedy for Channel 4. potential for sitcom gold. And let us down they did not.

So what is it that makes this sitcom great? Well, to begin with, the Goodman family have great on screen chemistry, which for a cast like this must be easy as they are no strangers to the art of television comedy.

What's nice about the Goodman's is that despite the face that they're all growing up they are by no means growing apart and it's nice to see a tradition such as dinner on a friday bring them all together, albeit slightly forced at times.

Heading up the Goodman family is somewhat of a comedy veteran, Tamsin Greig (Green Wing, Episodes) who plays Jackie, or as she's more commonly known, Mum. She has the pressure every week to deliver a good friday night dinner.

A bit of a gossip, she loves a natter with her best friend Val played by former EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman who rather unsettlingly has the exact same haircut as Jackie.

A real boys mum she'll do anything for a boys and often won't hear a bad word said about them.

Her husband Martin, or Dad as he is often referred to, is played by Paul Ritter (Pulling) and not one for wearing tops Martin is often seen opening the door and walking around the house with nothing on top shouting his phrase "shit on it".

A bit of an oddball, he drinks ketchup out of the bottle, calls his two sons "bambinos, both of whom are in their 20's and eats food out of the bin.

But don't mistake odd for stupid. Hard of hearing, Martin uses his hearing aid to his advantage switching it off so that he doesn't have to put up with Jackie nagging him about one thing or another.

And of course how could I forget Simon Bird of The Inbetweeners fame who plays Adam who is in his mid 20's. His  nickname is 'pussface' a name that comes from his brother Jonny.

Struggling to become a musician, and constantly being quizzed about his relationship status, not long into popping around for dinner does Adam already want to leave.

Tom Rosenthal completes the family line up as Adam's younger brother (early 20's), Jonny. One of Jonny's favourite past times is to be a wind-up and play pranks on people.

More often than not it's Adam who has to face his pranks such as the classic prank of pouring salt into somebody's drink.

Technically not part of the family but never-the-less a regular feature therefore completing the Friday Night Dinner cast is their neighbour Jim, played by Mark Heap (Green Wing, Spaced) and his dog Wilson who I like to think of as the Wellard of the sitcom world.

So other than just being their neighbour, Jim's main role is to interrupt the very thing on which this sitcom is based - the friday night dinner. This new series sees Jim go on a date.

In the first episode, Dad spends the best part of the episode sneezing... over babies, food and everything else in-between, not to forget the moment when he has a massive knife in his hand. Mum's brilliant advice to stop him sneezing? "Go and cut your nose off!".

In one of the funniest scenes, Jonny, in true wind-up fashion washed Adam's hair in the kitchen sink with washing up liquid. This was only the start of it for the two brothers as Jonny finds out from Adam's diary that when he was 11, Adam threw his favourite toy Pandy away. Not one to let things lie, a full blown war breaks out in which leads to Jonny being locked in his bedroom to, as Adam says "die", all in order to stop Buggy from going the same way as Pandy.

No episode of Friday Night Dinner would be the same without the, err... dinner itself. Starting off with soup, vegetable soup although Dad thought it tasted like pear much to Mum's annoyance. When the chicken with all the trimmings arrives on the table, it is soon classed as inedible by the two boys as dad has sneezed all over it. At  first the suggestion of takeaway is like blasphemy for Mum but that doesn't stop the boys from entering a Chinese takeaway and rather amusingly finds Jim arguing with a woman... in Chinese. A man of many hidden talents I guess.

No less than 10 minutes in an already Jim makes an appearance, commenting on Jackie's t-shirt that has a piano printed across the top making a joke about how realistic it was and that he could 'play it', an excuse to touch her breasts no less.

That's not all Jim was good for. In order to keep Buggy safe, Adam gives Buggy to Jim to look after - never a good idea. Which Adam only realises when going to collect Buggy off of him only to find out Jim has dropped the toy into the water.Several mentions of 'pussface' later the episode ends and leaves us wanting more. Which begs the question what will happen next week? Well, without giving too much away Grandma (Frances Cuka, Coronation Street) comes around for dinner with her new boyfriend who Mum prefers to call "her new companion".

82 year-old Mr Morris definitely splits opinion with Grandma in love with him and the rest of the family wondering why.What else can we expect from the rest of series 2? Well, Adam goes on a date with a girl who smells like mum, Jonny starts going out with a much older woman and mum is forced out the house by a mouse. Oh there's also Martin who starts drying fish in the downstairs cupboard... what can I say, Friday Night Dinner is certainly back.

With last years debut episode attracting 2.8 million viewers and not forgetting a Rose D'or award for Best Sitcom and several BAFTA, British Comedy nominations on top of that, it seems a lot of eyes are on this series and rightly so. Great writing, great storyline, great characters and more importantly great food. (OK maybe not that last one).

Friday Night Dinner continues Fridays Sundays at 10pm on Channel 4


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