Back in 2010 two comedy giants - Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) and Steve Coogan (Alan Partridge), embarked on a voyage around the Lake District doing restaurant reviews for The Observer. Four years later, and they've got back in touch, wanting the pair to review restaurants once more - but this time in... you guessed it, Italy.
If you didn't watch the first series then I strongly suggest you try and catch up as it really is brilliantly observed and put together. The duo play - what is fair to say - exaggerated versions of themselves. Rob's always doing impressions from Michael Caine to Robert De Niro, and Steve is well, as straight as you'd expect but together it totally works.
I must admit, I had my reservations when I heard that Brydon and Coogan had agreed to do a second series. Although delighted, I didn't want it to fall short of the original series, which was perfect in every way.I needn't have worried though, as luckily The Trip To Italy doesn't fall into the "Bad second album" category and all the charm, wit and humour from the first series is back.
So what's new? Well... Rob is now tired from the responsibilities of being the father of a young child, is looking for some adventure and when Steve receives the phone call from Rob to see if he wants to go back on the road, now feels like the right time. Steve has been busy living a life of abstinence and hard work in Los Angeles but now feels like the right time to return to Europe.
What isn't new? Well, the impressions are back and more importantly the impression-off's between Coogan and Brydon which are undoubtedly the most memorable scenes from both series.
Brydon's impressions of Michael Caine and Robert De Niro are back, this time with added Tom Hardy - which is a brilliantly accurate and hilarious treat in episode one. These impressions have even reached the actors themselves, with Michael Caine contacting Rob Brydon after the first series to say how much he enjoyed Rob's impressions of him.
There's also a confession (of sorts) from Rob Brydon who in the first episode mentions that people assume he's "slightly more affable" than he really is. In many interviews Brydon has indeed revealed that that comment is 100% true. And he's right! I've always seen Rob Brydon as a friendly guy and if I was ever to meet him, I assume he'd be really easy to get on with.
I have a feeling that that has a lot to do with characters he's played across the years, including Uncle Bryn in Gavin & Stacey or Keith Barret in Marion & Geoff. As for Steve Coogan sadly his exaggerated version of himself is nowhere near his most famous character, Alan Partridge. A-ha!
So if you haven't watched The Trip, but you're a fan of Brydon and Coogan (and even if you're not), I can't recommend The Trip To Italy enough.
The difference with this and other comedies on television is its pace. Whilst most comedies are quick-paced this one is the complete opposite. Not afraid to draw long pauses - the humour and the charm comes out of the relationship between the pair and how they subtly (or not so subtly) try and outdo one another. It's all done very naturally and never feels forced which is rare to find on television these days.