Mr Blue Sky - In The Press

I am still a little worried that Harvey Easter, the indefatigably cheery protaganist of Mr Blue Sky, will someday soon rip the mask of optimism from his face and go on a killing rampage, starting with his live-in son-in-law-to-be. As this young man, a grimestep DJ who is paid in energy drinks and therefore returns to the Easter household at 5am on a Red Bull high, is called Kill-R, it will give Harvey the opportunity to snarl: "Who's the killer now?" as he takes aim.

When I reviewed last year's first series of Andrew Collins' slow-burning hit comedy, I thought Harvey was bound to 'reverse into gloom' at some stage. The second series opened with his entire family kidnapped and replaced almost wholesale by the cast of TV's Outnumbered, but plucky old Harvey just got on with the job of being happy.

So Mark Benton's Harvey, a performance which is an essay in finely nuanced felicity (and how much harder must this be to play than the sobs of a broken man?) didn't falter even though the detached irony of Rebecca Front, last year's Mrs E, was replaced by Claire Skinner bringing with her Tyger Drew-Honey, both from Outnumbered. Skinner is the leading exponent of wringing comedic value out of the middle-class mum, determined never to yell "Because I said so." And I'm sure I'll get used to her in this, but for now I can't imagine her without chiselled-jawed, puppy-eyed Hugh Dennis as the husband who is a perpetual disappointment.

Tyger took over the role of 16-year-old Robbie with aplomb, asking for money to buy fruit - street slang for drugs - while their older child and bride-to-be, Charlie, was played by Rosamund Hanson with a quirkiness heightened by what was either a speech impediment or a plethora of tongue piercings. The darkness in this solidly engineered comedy, it transpires, is not embedded in Harvey's alter-ego, but swirls all around him as he attempts to hold it back like the tone-deaf, out-of-condition superhero he is.

Moira Petty, The Stage, 11th April 2012

RT's film editor opens up about the series he hopes will get families gathering around the wireless again.

Written by Andrew Collins. The Radio Times, 9th April 2012

Second season of Andrew Collins' warmly cosy Radio 4 comedy, starring Claire Skinner and Rosamund Hanson.

Written by Brian Donaldson. The List, 27th March 2012

It's a wrap, loves. Angus Deayton was our last guest of the Mr Blue Sky recording.

Written by Andrew Collins. 16th March 2012

Those following my Electric Light Orchestra-themed headlines this week will have guessed today's. For today is Day Seven, the final day of the recording of Series 2 of Mr Blue Sky.

Written by Andrew Collins. 16th March 2012

Having recorded outside in the car park on Tuesday, and in a van in the car park yesterday, studio director Wilfredo had us all outside in the cloudless sunshine again this morning for some more exterior scenes.

Written by Andrew Collins. 15th March 2012

It's weird to sit on this side of the glass. The actors know that we can hear every word they're saying when they're in there, but unless we press "talkback", they can't hear us. It's an unfair dynamic, but it spells out who's boss.

Written by Andrew Collins. 13th March 2012

Day Three of Mr Blue Sky, and it's all slotting together. We had an easy morning, in that we recorded all of Harvey's monologues.

Written by Andrew Collins. 12th March 2012

Day Two of Mr Blue Sky Series 2. The palatial middle studio at Soundhouse on what is now an ominously deserted industrial estate in Shepherd's Bush is our place of work until the end of next week.

Written by Andrew Collins. 9th March 2012

Today is Day One of Mr Blue Sky Series 2. It is a year to the day that we embarked upon the recording of Series 1.

Written by Andrew Collins. 8th March 2012

Mr Blue Sky, a four-part comedy drama written by Andrew Collins, finished on Monday on a wistful note, with ever-optimistic Harvey - the Mr Blue Sky of the title - failing to reveal his aneurysm to his family. He didn't want to ruin the happy vibe. He'd got his rubbish job back, his daughter was marrying her boyfriend, Kill-R, and his son had joined the army. This was a lovely series that got better as it went along. And Harvey's snarky oncologist - his mantra: "It's bad news" - was a joy from the start.

Miranda Sawyer, The Observer, 12th June 2011

Mr Blue Sky (Radio 4, yesterday) was billed as a "warm comedy" but as it drew towards its final episode it grew chillier, deeper. Mark Benton starred as the man in the title, husband, father, hopeless salesman with the infuriating habit (I know it's infuriating because I share it) of always looking on the bright "could-have-been-worse" side. His wife is flirting with the builder, his daughter has brought home a nightmare live-in boyfriend, his son has grievances, he loses his job. On top of all that he gets shot in the head then discovers he already has a potentially fatal aneurysm, about both of which he subsequently keeps silent. Funny? Well, yes. Andrew Collins, the writer, understands people. Anna Madley, for independents Avalon, let it be overplayed at first but brought it finally sailing home on a wing and a tear.

Gillian Reynolds, The Daily Telegraph, 7th June 2011

So, Episode 2 of Mr Blue Sky aired on Radio 4 this morning at the convenient time of 11.30am; I listened to it on headphones via my laptop in the British Library, which felt a bit weird. Secretly listening to my own work.

Written by Andrew Collins. 23rd May 2011

Andrew Collins talks about writing Mr Blue Sky, his Radio 4 sitcom which has been in development for over 14 years.

Written by Si Hawkins. British Comedy Guide, 17th May 2011

New comedy, Mr Blue Sky (Radio 4), is about Harvey Easter, an eternal optimist. He walks to work one morning, and gets shot. "I suppose it's better than being stabbed," he chirrups.

Andrew Collins's comedy makes you smile rather than guffaw, but is full of warm, nicely observed lines. Harvey (Mark Benton) is maddeningly upbeat, and Rebecca Front plays his exasperated wife well. A neighbour repeatedly lights bonfires in the garden ("What are you burning," she yells, "Edward Woodward?"). Harvey looks on the bright side: "At least he's not burning tyres." And relations with his teenage son are improving: "I think he respects me now I've been shot."

Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian, 17th May 2011

It doesn't get any easier. The first episode of Mr Blue Sky aired this morning, at 11.30, on BBC Radio 4. I was as nervous before it went out as I might have been waiting in the wings to go onstage.

Written by Andrew Collins. 16th May 2011

Andrew Collins introduces Mr Blue Sky...

Written by Andrew Collins. 11th March 2011