Kick off the festivities with a guffaw or three
The Worst Christmas of My Life 8pm, ABC
IT’S always a disaster to tell someone how funny something is before they see it. It kills spontaneity and raises expectations, perhaps falsely. It’s like Kev- speak: ‘‘ There is a funny line, and it is this . . .’’
So I’m not going to say that the third miniseries in The Worst Week of My Life franchise is possibly the funniest television show since Fawlty Towers. I’m not going to say it has the best physical comedy since that show, or even I Love Lucy, or that its endearing and surprisingly large ensemble is as complete and carefully constructed a universe as the one inhabited by the casts of Kath & Kim, Little Britain , My Name is Earl , The Catherine Tate Show, or any of the other funniest shows you’ve seen.
For comedy, like beauty, seems to dwell in the eye — or perhaps the ear, as it is timing related — of the beholder. It’s best to happen upon it without the best gags given away out of context.
In The Worst Christmas of My Life Ben Miller revives his hapless protagonist Howard, the unluckiest man alive. Howard is not a bad man, he is just ourselves in the middle of a very bad day that has now lasted for two and a bit series. The kind of day that starts badly, gets worse quickly and ends up a total disaster.
As ordinary folks we may write it off to experience and soothe ourselves with a sherbet or two in the safety of our homes. But for Howard there is no respite. Events conspire with his innate clumsiness, made more identifiable by his anxious pretence at British savoir- faire, to shoot him constantly in the foot.
In the first series the worst week in Howard’s life was the one before his marriage to Mel, played with long suffering tolerance giving way to anger and occasional hostility by the wonderful Sarah Alexander.
In the second series, against all odds, Howard and Mel move into their own home and are expecting their first child.
And now, just in time for the festive season, this three- part miniseries allows us to share a Christmas far in excess of the worst we have known. And for most of us that is probably saying something.
it home from the office, where some of the series’ most endearing characters dwell, he endures various melodramas of maladroitness, including being vomited on by his boss, suffering an electric shock and subsequently being given long, lingering and unnecessary mouth- to- mouth resuscitation by an admiring male colleague.
And when he gets home? Well it’s a carnival of farce that I’m not going to spoil. Just don’t miss it.
Jinxed: Ben Miller and Sarah Alexander in The Worst Christmas of my Life