A sis­terly sit­com pi­lot, driven more by nar­ra­tive and char­ac­ters than gags

The Guardian - G2 - - Television - By Sam Wol­las­ton

There is a lovely start to The Other One (BBC2). Well, it’s not lovely for Colin Wal­cott, or re­ally a start for him, more like an end, the end. It’s his birth­day; his wife Tess and daugh­ter Catherine are throw­ing him a sur­prise birth­day party. Trou­ble is, the sur­prise party ex­poses the Big Lie that Colin has been har­bour­ing. Not only is he cheat­ing on his wife but he has a whole other fam­ily, a mis­tress and an­other daugh­ter (also called Catherine Wal­cott, to avoid mix­ups). The shock of sud­denly be­ing so pub­licly found out is too much for poor Colin; he has a heart at­tack, and sadly dies. Sur­prise!

The end – of the show – is rather nice, too. Colin’s ashes are scat­tered, by his daugh­ters, the Catherine Wal­cotts, in a layby. Not be­cause it was a favourite layby, but be­cause it’s ex­actly equidis­tant be­tween where the Cather­ines live, and it was all they could agree on. Mean­while, in the same layby by happy coin­ci­dence, Colin’s wife is hav­ing sex with a man she’s just met on the in­ter­net (Guardian Soul­mates as it hap­pens: it makes me proud to work where I do), in his car.

Well, try­ing to have sex, it’s not go­ing that well. The Kia might have scored well on fuel ef­fi­ciency on What Car but it’s rub­bish for sex in the front. Plus Tess’s kaf­tan is in the way a bit, and she’s not re­ally over Colin, to be hon­est, even if he was a ly­ing, cheat­ing, hyp­o­crit­i­cal bas­tard. He does fi­nally get a bet­ter send-off: his ashes swept up off the layby (along with the odd fag butt), packed into a dis­tress flare and fired into the Manch­ester night sky. Aww.

But this is not about Colin. It’s about Tess (Re­becca Front). And it’s about her love ri­val Mar­i­lyn (Siob­han Fin­neran). And it’s about the two Cather­ines, Cathy and Cat (El­lie White and Lau­ren Socha, re­spec­tively). It is th­ese four women who fill the bit be­tween the start and the end, and they do so very well. A lot of the hu­mour comes from the so­cial chasm be­tween the half-sis­ters. Cathy is in rein­sur­ance; she’s or­gan­ised and prissy, and she has a dull fi­ance called Mar­cus (though that might be in jeop­ardy af­ter he sent some in­ad­vis­able pic­ture texts and it looks as though his pe­nis is about to go vi­ral, flap­ping about all over so­cial me­dia). Cat works at De­liv­eroo and isn’t with any­one at the mo­ment. “Well, this sum­mer I fi­nally com­pleted Tin­der so I’m just tak­ing a bit of a breather,” she tells her new sis­ter. Fi­nally com­pleted Tin­der! That’s a very good joke, isn’t it? Hats off Holly Walsh, who wrote it. And it seems Cat re­ally has com­pleted Tin­der; she knows ev­ery mi­nor male char­ac­ter on it, knows them very well.

Per­haps sur­pris­ingly, Cathy and

Cat do find com­mon ground. Not just Bye bye layby … El­lie White, Re­becca Front and Lau­ren Socha

be­cause they share genes and a dad, but also a love of Su­per­tramp (even if that ob­vi­ously came via him). Noth­ing bridges a so­cial chasm quite like a good 70s guilty plea­sure car­pool karaoke sin­ga­long. “Like a king with­out a cas­tle, like a queen with­out a throne, I’m an early morn­ing lover, and I must be mov­ing on” … Lovely – and so very dif­fer­ent – from White and Socha. Though per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, it’s Front who nicks the show from them. She wears the role like she wears that kaf­tan: ex­u­ber­antly, with loads of colour and rel­ish, and burst­ing out a lit­tle.

It’s good to see a com­edy pi­lot that is more about char­ac­ter and nar­ra­tive mo­men­tum than it is about gags. And one that doesn’t come with laugh­ter in­cluded; you get to de­cide your­self whether to or not, al­most like you’re an adult. I am not con­vinced the premise screams six­episode series, but I’d be de­lighted to be proved wrong.

My Hot­ter Half (E4) looks as though it to­tally ful­fils the Chan­nel 4 re­mit. Melvin Odoom, pre­sent­ing, even says “think of it as a pub­lic ser­vice”. Couple Char­lotte and Dar­ren both think they’re bet­ter look­ing than the other. Dar­ren is cer­tainly buff. “Some­one call a vet cos those swans are sick, bro,” says Melvin. About his bi­ceps, ob­vi­ously. (I know what it means as I get it quite a lot, too. Maybe I’ll go on with my girl­friend, just so she knows she’s punch­ing too.) They take self­ies and the pub­lic get to de­cide who is right. I think it can claim in­no­va­tion, and maybe di­ver­sity. Plus it will in­spire de­bate among view­ers: she’s hot­ter, no way, he’s hot­ter …

She’s hot­ter! Char­lotte. Well, well. Wait, though: there’s a fur­ther thrilling twist. Dar­ren gets a style makeover, and then he’s voted hot­ter! Don’t you dare go telling me that’s not im­por­tant.

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