Friday Night Dinner - In The Press

One year, one month and one day after starting writing series 3 of Friday Night Dinner, we've finally finished making the series. I'm not sure when it's on telly yet, but as soon as I know I'll let you know. Feel free to ask Channel 4 to hurry up and stick it on!

Written by Robert Popper. 7th February 2014

The family sitcom is, of course, perfectly suited to a Yuletide makeover. Shows such as C4's Friday Night Dinner, which is set almost entirely within the confines of a single family home, practically demand that at least one episode be set at Christmas.

The inaugural special from Friday Night Dinner is pretty successful, in that it's consistently amusing - it too involves a bit of comic business with a Christmas tree - and revolves around an awkward extended family gathering where everything goes pudding-shaped. This is practically a staple of Christmas-themed sitcom episodes, used in everything from The Royle Family to Peep Show and Outnumbered.

Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 24th December 2012

Friday Night Dinner (C4, 10.30pm) features a fictional Jewish family from North London, and I'm still not sure whether the programme is comedy or tragedy. Either way though, it's increasingly watchable.

Victor Lewis-Smith, The Independent, 24th December 2012

The Goodmans' reservations about celebrating a Christian holiday are quickly cast aside, but the tree is a step too far for Jackie (Tamsin Greig). Jonny is hungover, making brother Adam even more of an irritant, and weird neighbour Jim (Mark Heap) is angling for a spot at the table. His plans are initially scuppered after his german shepherd molests Martin's mother's ailing dog in the garden. But there's a lovely moment of festive togetherness from an unexpected source.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 21st December 2012

Digital Spy caught up with quick-witted Tom Rosenthal - who plays Jonny - to talk Christmas specials, romance and unlikely Hollywood on-screen pairings...

Written by Morgan Jeffery. Digital Spy, 20th December 2012

Tom Rosenthal tells TV Choice more about the Friday Night Dinner Christmas special...

TV Choice Magazine, 11th December 2012

The second series of this sitcom about the lives of the hapless Goodman family goes out with a bang for oddball neighbour Jim (Mark Heap), who pops round in his weasely way and ends up being electrocuted. There's a rather cute mouse in the tale, an unexpected and original sight gag, lots of slapstick and a nicely understated script, all of which make it as enjoyable as ever. A lot of the charm lies in the warmth of the family and their united front - nicely illustrated in tight midshots of the group - against Jim, and that's to the fore tonight: the latter even induces the odd moment of pathos to counteract the idiocy that occasionally borders on irritating. Charming rather than laugh-out-loud, but warmly winning in a way that UK comedy excels at.

Yolanda Zappaterra, Time Out, 11th November 2012

Hello bambinos! The most underrated show on TV and also quite probably the funniest. Great performances all round, but (topless) Paul Ritter and Mark Heap steal the show every week.

Alex Fletcher, Digital Spy, 10th November 2012

The second series is broader and more slapstick than the first, but its gag-rate is still superb. Has it been living up to your expectations?

Written by David Renshaw. The Guardian, 7th November 2012

Simon Bird, who plays nerdy victim Will McKenzie, says Inbetweeners fans usually throw back the show's insults and catchphrases at them.

Written by Steve Myall. The Mirror, 26th October 2012

Tom Rosenthal is a natural playing the youngest son in sitcom Friday Night Dinner. Then again his real family is pretty funny too.

Written by Lisa Williams. News Letter, 23rd October 2012

Back for a second series on Channel 4, Friday Night Dinner has retained the comic spark that it had in the first.

As with the previous helping, the series sees the Jewish Goodman family trying to have a dinner on a Friday night, which - as always - ends up with chaos. Brothers Adam and Jonny (Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal) fight and play pranks, while mother Jackie (Tamsin Greig) tries keep everything in order while cooking the "squirrel" - and father Martin (Paul Ritter) continues with his odd behaviour, refusing to wear a shirt.

In the opening episode, Jackie finds Adam's old diary, which he reveals that he disposed of Jonny's favourite cuddly toy when he was 11. As a result, Jonny tries to capture Adam's beloved "Buggy". In the meantime, Martin is constantly sneezing while trying to fix his lawnmower...

This was a great opening episode, mixing some off-the-wall humour (mainly from Jim, who claims playing the bassoon gave him "reverse hiccups") with some good old fashioned slapstick, which helps to bring around a great ending to the episode itself.

Part of the reason why Friday Night Dinner seems to work is the fact that it's based on something real, namely the actual experiences of such 'Friday night dinners' of the writer Robert Popper. It gives the show an extra footing from which you can get more laughs from, and it does seems to work.

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 15th October 2012

Robert Popper's Friday Night Dinner contains moments that are tricky to defend as psychological realism. "He looked like Hitler," said odd neighbour Jim, after meeting the grandmother's monstrous new boyfriend. "It's not Hitler, is it?" But Popper's comedy has an internal consistency that makes it work. Jim is strange enough to say something like that. You feel absolutely confident that none of the other characters would, because they stay true to type. The monstrous boyfriend works too, even though he's a kind of cartoon of belligerent old age, because the forms of his unpleasantness are simultaneously unpredictable and credible. "One rule I have when I'm in a vehicle," he barked when driving the boys out on an errand. "Complete silence! Not a word!" After which, he slowly drove into the wall in front of him. Like a lot of good comedy it's simultaneously over the top and understated.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 15th October 2012

Channel 4 has made the odd decision to move Friday Night Dinner from Friday nights (um, when all Jewish people have dinner?) to Sunday evenings. Robert Popper's family sitcom is back for another six episodes, which is incredible given how it barely managed to justify six last year. The best sitcoms impose restrictions on the characters, so I'm not against FND's narrow concept in principle (that two brothers return to their eccentric parent's home every Friday for a family meal), but I do have to wonder if the show might have been improved by broadening the idea slightly. There are only so many squabbles, fraternal fights/pranks, and visits from the weird next-door neighbour (Mark Heap) I can take before my brain itches for something more diverse. Similarly to Cuckoo, it's the frothy performances that keep you engaged-particularly Tamsin Greig as bemused mum Jackie - and the premiere at least ended on a brilliant visual involving a beloved stuffed rabbit and a lawn mower. I just wish FND had a concept that suited the dynamism of Popper's imagination, because there's something about it that has me screaming for the self-imposed boundaries to be lifted.

Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest, 14th October 2012

Impish family kibitzing this episode gives way to wall-to-wall haranguing, as grandma brings her new boyfriend to dinner. Flashes of Inbetweeners-style brinkmanship in what's acceptable abound, as the Goodmans are forced to appreciate the presence of an octogenarian fuck-buddy in their matriarch's life. Fans of Mark Heap will be disappointed with minimal creepy-neighbour shtick this time round. But Harry Landis's demonic suitor, Mr Morris, more than makes up for this, stealing the show - and possibly the series - as an archetype of doddering evil. If creator Robert Popper is conducting some sort of twisted experiment to find the most grotesque and misshapen form into which the traditional family sitcom can be contorted, then the final five minutes of this show are probably a bit of a breakthrough. At least a nine point five on the shudderometer.

Chris Bourn, Time Out, 14th October 2012

Dotty grandma arrives for dinner with her terrible new boyfriend, or "male companion" as she prefers. He's a mean-spirited old man who arrives by crashing his car into the Goodmans' front door before berating the household. Again, it's an episode that relies heavily on farce and eye-popping outrage, so it wears thin quite quickly. But Harry Landis, as the boyfriend, is gloriously awful, whether he's engaging in excruciating displays of affection with grandma ("I'm all randy") to claiming he's been abused by the entirely innocent Adam (Simon Bird). And there's a welcome, though all too brief, visit from febrile neighbour Jim (Mark Heap).

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 14th October 2012

Friday Night Dinner is a slightly more slapstick experience than Grandma's House - the other comedy about the everyday goings-on of a Jewish household. But despite accusations that nothing actually happens this return comes to a satisfying climax.

Written by Sean Marland. MSN TV, 8th October 2012

The second series of Channel 4 hit Friday Night Dinner kicked off with an episode which was long on mayhem and short on subtlety - and only sporadically hit the mark.

Written by Caroline Westbrook. Metro, 8th October 2012

Turning a Jewish tradition into a sitcom was perhaps never an easy task but Friday Night Dinner has managed to do just that in spectacular fashion.

Written by Elliot Gonzalez. 7th October 2012

The second series of Channel 4 hit Friday Night Dinner kicked off with an episode which was long on mayhem and short on subtlety - and only sporadically hit the mark.

Written by Caroline Westbrook. Metro, 7th October 2012

It's not on Friday night anymore. But otherwise, it's business as usual for Robert Popper's relentlessly watchable family sitcom. No real complexity here: tonight, Adam and Jonny declare open war on each other after the chilling discovery of a secret concerning a disappeared childhood cuddly toy. Jonny is prepared to go nuclear, but can Adam avert disaster and save the life of his beloved rabbit Buggy? Happily, the plot facilitates a slightly-larger-than-usual role for the brilliant Mark Heap's creepy, needy neighbour Jim - hopefully this is the shape of things to come. Elsewhere, Martin is still hapless and half naked, and Jackie remains mildly exasperated and sneakily mischievous. A welcome return - Friday Night Dinner is cannily written, nicely performed and very much the kind of show that sneaks up on you

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 7th October 2012

Simon Bird doesn't particularly like being interviewed. If he hadn't already told me this, I'd know by his body language.

Written by Alice Wyllie. The Scotsman, 7th October 2012

"Maybe this whole obsession with colouring our hair is about our inability to grow up..."

Written by Rosie Millard. Radio Times, 7th October 2012

We sit down at the dinner table with the chaotic Goodman family as Robert Popper's genial autobiographical comedy returns for a second series. Dad, the fantastically lugubrious Paul Ritter, is once again embarrassingly shirtless ("I'm bloody boiling" is his constant lament) as warring siblings Adam and Jonny (Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal) start brawling like toddlers the minute they set foot in their childhood home. Mum Jackie (Tamsin Greig) can do little except look pained while shouting for order above the mayhem.

Mark Heap as weirdly obtuse neighbour Jim lifts us out of broad farce when he becomes obsessed by Adam's childhood fluffy bunny.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 7th October 2012

Robert Popper's comedy hit some terrific comic highs on its debut last year, and it returns in even finer fettle for a second series. This is sitcom pared to the bare bones - two grown-up brothers return to the parental home every Friday for dinner, and promptly revert to bickering, antagonistic children. A simple formula that, with crackling scripts and perfect casting - Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal as siblings; Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter as Mum and Dad - works like a dream.

The Daily Telegraph, 5th October 2012

Older Press Clippings