Trying Again, which starts this week with a run of 8 episodes may be Sky One's best comedy offering yet. And why wouldn't it be?
Created by actor Chris Addison (The Thick Of It) and writer Simon Blackwell (Peep Show, The Thick Of It, Veep) on paper this looks very good, and luckily for them (and us), on screen it's every bit as good as I'd hoped. Together they wanted to create a relationship comedy that explored that moment many couples reach in their 30s where they question if they're with the right 'one'. Cue Trying Again...
The comedy focuses on Matt and Meg who live in a small Lake District town where there is no room for secrets and people tend to say things at the wrong time.
Matt is played by Chris Addison, and Meg is played by ex-EastEnders actress Jo Joyner. They have been together for years and there's no denying that they're soul mate. But then six months ago, Meg had an affair with a Doctor from work but the couple are ready to give love a second chance, with the help of a little couple counselling along the way.
I've been a fan of Chris Addison for a while now, and most of you will probably known him best for playing Ollie in The Thick Of It, he's also very good on Twitter should you be looking for someone to follow. Chris is great at playing those often awkward and nervous characters, and Matt in Trying Again is no different. When describing Matt, you wouldn't really say that he's a man's man.
Instead the words shy, careful and a little bit insecure are more suitable. But then again if your girlfriend has an affair with a rather charming GP, you would be too. He's also more at home in the kitchen cooking the dinner, than in the living room doing a spot of DIY. It's nice to see Chris in something that isn't political, and I do think that something like Trying Again, which of course he created with Simon Blackwell, is the perfect next step for him. In fact, Chris has said that after spending "...years making political, harsh, satirical comedies... [he] ...wanted to make a show that was funny and lovely and about real lives." - and if you ask me, he's succeeded.
When it comes to the soaps, I'm a massive EastEnders fan and Jo Joyner's character Tanya was one of my favourites, so it's great to see her in something outside of the Square, and something more... shall we say, lighthearted. Because let's face it, as good as EastEnders is, it's not known for it's comedy. Jo Joyner is no stranger to comedy having previously starred in Candy Cabs for BBC One and revisits the genre once more for Trying Again in which Jo really shines. Meg is your typical salt-of-the-earth girl and not afraid to tell the truth with a bit of a cheeky edge. She gets on with men equally as well as she does with women.
Although yes, as we've already established, men may love her a little bit too much which is how she found herself in a brief fling. But this is why Meg and Matt work so well together as they're able to feed off each other's energy. Meg's loud personality acts as a perfect foyle for Matt's rather nervous and introverted personality.
So who exactly is this man Meg had an affair with? Well, as I mentioned earlier, he's a GP whom Meg met whilst working at West Street surgery, who goes by the name of Dr Iain Mackenzie, and is played by Charles Edwards (Downton Abbey). Whilst Meg may have moved on and is giving it another go with Matt, Iain has not. It doesn't help that when Meg returns to work at the surgery after having no luck finding a job elsewhere, Iain admits that he still has feelings for her. Which way will she go?
Will she end up going back to the GP or will she learn from her mistakes and stay loyal to Matt this time? Only time will tell, but I really hope it's the latter as I really do believe they make a great couple and belong together.
Then there's Gail, Matt's sister who is played by Elizabeth Berrington (Waterloo Road, Stella), she is also a driving instructor and a single mum. She'd love to see Matt and Meg stay together and does everything she can to make it happen.
There's also Sam, played by Alun Cochrane (Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow) who works with Matt in the Visit Kendal Tourist Centre. Sam sees Matt as a bit of a wuss, but when a couple of kids cause trouble in the store it turns out they're both as bad as each other - incapable of standing up to the kids or telling the right story to the piece. To say Sam and Matt are friends is a step too far, they are however workmates and Sam really fancies his sister Gail. Best known for playing Neil's dad in The Inbetweeners, Alex MacQueen plays Martin in Trying Again, a passive-aggresive, snide, manipulative and self-serving man. He is Meg's co-receptionist at West Street surgery and no matter what people think of him, he refuses to change his character.
And completing the cast is Ryan, played by Ethan Lawrence (Bad Education), who is a bag of nerves every time he get behind the wheel, but then again he is being taught by Gail, so it's no surprise really! And when he takes his test for a fourth time in episode six it's bittersweet for Gail, because if he does pass she'd've lost a customer, but deep down she wants him to do well. I wouldn't describe Trying Again as a laugh out loud comedy like Miranda or Mrs Brown's Boys, but there are some funny moments and is much more about the characters and character development than it is about the jokes, following a very similar format to shows like Stella or Mount Pleasant.
So if you're after something fun and light-hearted to watch of an evening then this is definitely for you. The upside of being created by Addison and Blackwell is that as well as great characters, there is a great script behind it and I can only imagine that the more the series goes on, the better it will get as we get to know these characters a little bit better. And if there's one thing I'd like to happen, it's that Meg and Matt stay together because even through all the troubles they've faced I do think they belong together and it's great to see them giving the relationship a second chance.