Being Eileen - In The Press

Main News Stories About 'Being Eileen':

I've really enjoyed exploring the characters much further than I normally would in a play or a single drama.

BBC Writersroom, 11th March 2013

The last in the series of the Sue Johnston-led family comedy. It's the day of Liam's pirate-themed birthday party, and he is terrified of pirates. Everything is going to plan, until Paula (Elizabeth Berrington) picks up a cordless drill and all hell breaks loose. Which is less exciting than it sounds. Eileen's friends arrive to save the day and Ray (William Ash) gets ready for a rare visit from his parents, while Maurice uses the occasion to butter up Eileen. It hasn't been the subtlest of comedies, but the cast were great.

Julia Raeside, The Guardian, 11th March 2013

Looking for a clean, warm-hearted laughs? BBC1 has made viewers work for them, scheduling this family fare in a deathly slot where you need to stay awake past 11pm to see a whole episode. It's almost as if they regret commissioning it. They needn't worry: while Being Eileen doesn't start any comedy fires, it's solid, likeable and peopled by extremely good comic actors. Sue Johnston is the titular granny, supported by Dean Andrews, Julie Graham and the terrific Elizabeth Berrington.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 23rd February 2013

The enjoyable series continues tonight with a friend encouraging Eileen (Sue Johnston) to join a group of local widows for emotional support. Meanwhile, Paula (Elizabeth Berrington) and Mandy (Julie Graham) set up rival classes in the latest keep-fit dance craze, Ay Carumba, and Ethan shows signs of being a future judo star.

Michael Hogan, The Daily Telegraph, 15th February 2013

Television can be a tough business for women of a certain age and Sue Johnston, who turns 70 later this year, isn't taking anything for granted.

Written by Olivia Buxton. The Mirror, 14th February 2013

The main flaw in this comedy seems to be the characters. William Ash is a good actor but has been given such a tedious, one-dimensional character in Ray that I dread seeing him onscreen.

UK TV Reviewer, 5th February 2013

Not much happens in Being Eileen, but being a downbeat British situation comedy, it doesn't matter. The point is the interplay of authentic characters in banal situations. Under the pen of Michael Wynne, the results are funny and touching.

It helps that the recently widowed Eileen is played by Sue Johnston, the nation's favourite matriarch. She is a genius at marrying tenderness and a light touch, from The Royle Family to Waking the Dead. There is possibly too much in Eileen borrowed from Barbara Royle, but we can stand to watch it over and over: if you remember the brilliance of her doing the housework to Lou Bega, then it's fine to watch a reprise here to Motörhead. This is classic British comedy territory, finding a deep well of humour in sadness and it was very enjoyable.

Wynne first wrote about these Birkenhead people in 2011's one-off comedy drama Lapland. Eileen has two married children, and both have two young kids of their own. The family units crackle with banter: the trick is to stop children sounding like wisecracking adults, as they did in Diff'rent Strokes, and instead make them sparky foils for the comedic grown-ups.

There are glorious moments. A mad, sad woman in a graveyard sings happy birthday to her dead husband while two of Eileen's grandchildren spontaneously join in, to the horror of their mother. A desperately lonely meals-for-one chap gives a speech in a supermarket about how we are deserted in our old age, creating a hum of disquiet in the cold meats area.

It's not as depressing a situation as Steptoe or Porridge nor are the characters as mired in working class immobility as the Trotters or the Royles, but it's of the same lineage. Being Eileen deserved far better than a miserable slot after the 10pm news, particularly when we were offered only a repeat of Outnumbered at 9pm. Most peculiar mama, as they say on Merseyside.

Adrian Michaels, The Telegraph, 5th February 2013

Being Eileen is a spin-off of Michael Wynne's Christmas drama Lapland, about a Merseyside family finding healing and reconciliation on a Christmas jolly. Now it's been more tightly focused on Sue Johnston's character, a widow wistfully hankering after some grander meaning in life. It's all right, I guess, if effortful implausibilities for comic effect aren't a deal-breaker for you. But I'm not quite sure why the spinning off was felt to be necessary.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 5th February 2013

'She's phoned me from her bag again,' says Paula of her mother Eileen, setting the tongue-in-cheek tone for this spin-off comedy series from 2011 Christmas drama Lapland. Eileen is feeling her age and determined not to go quietly into the night, so she heads to the planetarium to gaze at the stars - has she gone off her head? Sue Johnston shines as the matriarch, orbited by fellow TV stars Elizabeth Berrington, Dean Andrews and William Ash.

Metro, 4th February 2013

This is a full series spun-off from Lapland, the festive com-dram one-off about the titular Eileen (Sue Johnston) and her sprawling Merseyside family, coping with life after her husband dies. Instructions for use: simply rub beloved TV actor between both palms for approximately 10 seconds and place next to a framed photo of a smiling dead husband. Within minutes you will have an effectively warmed heart that can last up to 30 minutes. Do not deviate from instructions on pack. Repeat as required.

John Robinson, The Guardian, 3rd February 2013

Sue Johnston stars as Eileen, the widowed matriarch of a riotous Birkenhead family in Michael Wynne's new six-part comedy drama. We first encountered the Lewises in Lapland, a 75-minute Christmas special which was screened in 2011, when the newly fatherless clan travelled to the Arctic Circle and Eileen learned to live life to the full. But back home, things aren't so rosy and now Eileen has vanished and her daughter, Paula (Elizabeth Berrington), fearing the worst, organises a family search party.

Jane Shilling, The Daily Telegraph, 1st February 2013

Sue Johnston is back as Eileen Lewis, a role she first played in a 2011 Christmas comedy called Lapland.

TV Choice Magazine, 29th January 2013

In Lapland - chillingly described as "heartwarming" in the Radio Times - it was the Northern Lights that provided the cure-all for family dysfunction, uniting a bickering Birkenhead family in innocent wonder at the end of a trip to visit Santa. Michael Wynne's drama had been so sour and bad-tempered up to this point, though, that the sudden swerve into bonhomie felt deeply unconvincing. One rapprochement - between a beleaguered husband and his endlessly whining wife - came about because he finally lost his patience and snapped, "Will you shut your fat gob for once!" a remark that I'm sure spoke for many viewers but seemed implausible as a catalyst for festive peace. There were some good lines, but I still came out thinking Mandy's early grumble had been a hazardous hostage to fortune: "Christmas," she said winningly, "is all about sitting on a sofa watching shite and eating crap."

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 26th December 2011

Olivier Award-winning playwright Michael Wynne turns his hand to TV comedy tonight, with this one-off special about a close-knit Birkenhead family who decide to pull out the stops and go to Lapland for Christmas. It stars the excellent Sue Johnston - best known as Barbara Royle from The Royle Family - as the family's benevolent matriarch, Eileen; with support from a strong ensemble cast, including Elizabeth Berrington (Waterloo Road) as her overstressed daughter Paula and Stephen Graham (This Is England) as her long-suffering son Pete. Being a British comedy, it doesn't take long for the infighting to start, and the film contains a handful of smartly observed scenes that will be familiar to many viewers - from the grandmother being used as a permanently on-call nanny by her own children, to the simmering family grievances vented after a few glasses of sherry, to the difficulty of keeping older siblings from spoiling the magic of Father Christmas for their younger brothers and sisters. At points, this takes the programme more into the realm of edgy, Shameless-style drama than gentle festive comedy; but Wynne manages to sugar the pill with a good deal of warm Northern humour.

Pete Naughton, The Daily Telegraph, 23rd December 2011

Why do the Brits love Lapland? A new BBC comedy drama tries to get to the bottom of it...

Written by Dominic Cavendish. The Telegraph, 23rd December 2011

The traditional redemptive sugar substitute is provided by the "heart-warming" (your critical alarm bells should now be ringing) tale of a Birkenhead family holidaying in Lapland. Sue Johnston and Julie Graham star, and Zawe Ashton - so wonderful as Vod in Channel 4's student comedy drama Fresh Meat - plays the tour rep known as "Jingle Jill".

Gerard Gilbert, The Independent, 23rd December 2011

Lapland covers quite touching issues that are affecting the Lewis family - like the loss of their family patriarch - and then my character, the holiday rep Jingle Jill interrupts with quite hilarious material. It's very much a comedy drama.

Written by Zawe Ashton. BBC TV Blog, 21st December 2011

An interview with actor Stephen Graham.

Written by Niki Boyle. The List, 13th December 2011

Sue Johnston talks about her new Christmas comedy Lapland and what it's like playing This is England star Stephen Graham's mum...

What's On TV, 6th December 2011

Sue Johnston tells TV Choice more about Lapland, and also reveals how she likes to celebrate the festive season.

Written by David Collins. TV Choice Magazine, 6th December 2011