Ancient Rome may not be an obvious setting for a comedy but when Plebs first came to our screens last year, it wasn't long before ITV2 had a hit on their hands.
Starring Tom Rosenthal (Friday Night Dinner), Joel Fry (Trollied) and Ryan Sampson (Up The Women), the series follows three under achievers, all of whom are on a desperate quest to live the ‘when in Rome’ mantra to the full in the empire’s most exciting city.
Following the success of the first series it's no surprise to hear that Plebs is returning for a second series which has been extended from six episodes to eight. Whilst series one was set in 27BC, the new series is set in 26BC but even though the world has progressed and moved forward, the three under achievers have not.This week Plebs returns to ITV2 with a double-bill that kickstarts a much bigger, ruder and funnier series.
Marcus (Tom Rosenthal), Stylax (Joel Fry) and slave Grumio (Ryan Sampson) are all still domestically, financially and romantically useless... and I wouldn't want them any other way.
Marcus continues to have a crush on his next door neighbour Cynthia (Sophie Coliquhon), and she continues to ignore his advances. Much to Stylax's annoyance as he'd much rather he gave up on her, moved on and headed towards becoming the 'big men of Rome'.In episode one, Stylax realises that if he's to become on of the 'big men of Rome' he needs to reinvent himself as a charioteer? What's that? Can he drive? No. Does he have a chariot? Of course not! But he does have the uniform, so that's enough to fool people right?
And just when Marcus thinks he has successfully asked a girl out, she turns out to be a prostitute, played by Misfits star Lauren Socha.Things go from bad to worse when Marcus realises he can't actually pay for her services and the three of them resort to stealing money from a fountain which as they find out, is illegal.
Aside from Lauren, there are plenty of other cameos too this series including Shaun Williamson, aka Barry from EastEnders, who plays a brilliantly funny driving instructor, Paul Ritter (Friday Night Dinner) who runs the local shelter, James Fleet (The Vicar of Dibley) who plays Gaius, Stylax's seemingly gay patron, and Tom's father Jim Rosenthal, who appears in the first episode before Tom does!
Tom Davis (Lemon La Vida Loca) also joins as a series regular playing dodgy landlord, Landlord's (Karl Theobald), massive henchman Davus. As well as writing Plebs alongside Sam Leifer, Tom Basden reprises his role from series one, playing Marcus and Stylax's water-pouring colleague Aurelius.
In episode two, Aurelius announces that he's got a girlfriend, he's getting married, and wants Marcus to be his best man. And as best man, it's up to Marcus to organise the stag do... there's one slight problem though, Aurelius has no friends so it's a rather short guest list.
If there's one thing to learn from the episode, it's that Grumio can not be trusted with your drugs. Landlord panics and asks Grumio to look after his 'gourmet seeds' which leads to him spiking their dinner.
However, the best episode in the series has to be episode three where Grumio, my personal favourite pleb, finds a baby when putting out the bins and decides to look after it himself and name it, wait for it... Binny!So that's what to expect from the new series; prostitution, sex, drugs, a stag do and a baby... not forgetting the best series yet. Whilst we spent the majority of the first series getting to know the characters the new series hits the road running with great storylines, great jokes and brilliant new characters.
As ITV2 re-position themselves as the "Home of comedy and entertainment", Plebs is a definite highlight and long may it continue. C'mon ITV, do the right thing and recommission Plebs pronto.