Last night I attended the launch of Channel 4's latest sitcom, London Irish, at the BFI in London. The sitcom follows the lives of four ex-pat Northern-Irish twenty-somethings, living in London.
One critic has referred to London Irish as a sick-com, rather than a sitcom. Sure, there are several crude references throughout and the word 'fuck' is used in every other sentence but you have to remember it's a comedy, so obviously these characters have been exaggerated and the swearing, in my mind, adds to the comedy. For me, the more fucks and c**t's used the funnier the piece gets...
Why? Because, like writer Lisa McGee and Channel 4's Deputy Head of Comedy, Nerys Evans said at the launch, the swearing is never just there for the sake of a quick laugh. The swearing is there because it's part of the character's DNA, it makes them who they are.
So who exactly are the four sweary twenty-somethings? Well, first up there's Bronagh, played by Sinéad Keenan - she's loud, she's brash, she swears like a trooper. And you know what? She's my favourite and brilliantly played by Sinéad.
Also, let's not forget how much she likes a drink. In episode two we see her wake up next to a toddler ("We didn't, did we?" she asks) and have to nurse a massive hangover. Then in episode three the worst thing ever imaginable happens - she's put on antibiotics and can't drink!
Then there's Conor, played by Kerr Logan, Conor is Bronagh's younger brother and spends most (if not all) of the first episode wearing a dress. It's a long story... Basically the woman at the airport on the way over to London told Bronagh that her case was too heavy, so rather than pay the "wee" fee she made her brother wear some of her clothes to lighten the load. Anyway...
I like Conor, you never quite know where he's going to go next? Is he gay? Hmm, not sure, but he does dabble in one episode with the same sex. Perhaps he's just easily influenced... or a massive kid. My money's on the latter.
Packy, played by Peter Campion is perhaps the more normal one out of the four. I was going to use the term 'father figure' but maybe that's pushing it a bit far.
He's got much more of a conscious than the others but that's not to say he doesn't get dragged into the mad lives of the others.
Which actually, thinking about it means he's perhaps not as grown up and sensible as I once thought.
And last but not least, there's Niamh, played by Kat Reagan. Speaking at the BFI, the writer said she drew influence for London Irish from Seinfeld and Friends. With this in mind, Niamh is definitely the Phoebe of the group. She ticks all the boxes - Ditzy, funny and ultimately very funny. I love the way she just doesn't get it, but doesn't realise she doesn't get it.
Also there's a certain skill involved in persisting with a conversation that starts with "How often do you shite?" - and if you've seen episode one you'll know exactly what bit I'm talking about.
Doesn't sound that controversial does it? Sure there are digs at the English and a lot of swearing, the odd sexual innuendo aimed at a kid, but ultimately what you want to do what you want to do when you watch a comedy is laugh, and watching this I laughed several times.
I love the mix of characters and think they work really well together, yes they're out there but I do think there's something in each of the characters that people will be able to relate to. Whether that's always getting drunk, not quite getting things, kissing corpses, having sex with a guy with one hand. OK, maybe not those last two.
I've seen half of the series now, and I really hope it follows in the footsteps of Fresh Meat and the sadly coming to an end, The IT Crowd, and be on our screens for a couple more series yet!