Grandma's House - In The Press

The dreadful clockwork of Simon's family life is wound up again. This time the excuse for the ill-fitting cogs to gather is Tanya's birthday.

Naturally Grandma has party hats for everyone and snacks in little bowls. Or should she use the big bowls?

As she havers about it, Simon is concerned with deeper issues: he has to cry for his new theatre role (Ariel in a hip production of The Tempest), but he's worried that years of suppressing family feelings has stunted his ability to emote. That's an excuse for more self-reflexive jokes about whether he's any good at acting (a criticism levelled at Amstell in real life).

It's another beautifully farcical, deliciously awkward half-hour, complete with another cricketing/sex metaphor from Clive to make you shudder. Yes, he's still lurking in the attic.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 3rd May 2012

Simon is about to appear in an "intimate" performance of ]i]The Tempest, though his mother would rather he did his Rocky impression. Most of tonight focuses on his struggles with acting, as pointed out by some of the less kind critics of the first series, which throws the whole thing into an increasingly self-referential spiral. Funny, sharp, odd and dark, this is one of the best comedies on TV right now.

Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 2nd May 2012

This knowing, beautifully nuanced sitcom reaches the halfway mark in its second series. Wannabe actor Simon (star and creator Simon Amstell) lands the role of Ariel in a new production of The Tempest, so he tries to learn how to cry on command. Elsewhere in his ever-chaotic family, Grandma (Linda Bassett) struggles to come to terms with Grandpa's death, and mother Tanya (The Thick Of It's excellent Rebecca Front) prepares a surprise for her own birthday, while her hapless fiancé Clive (James Smith) comes round in the loft after a heavy drinking session.

Michael Hogan, The Daily Telegraph, 2nd May 2012

The comedy actor talks about her family.

Written by Hannah Booth. The Guardian, 28th April 2012

Grandma's House offered one of its finest episodes yet, as Simon's gran tried once more to cure his crippling ennui with tea and snacks.

Written by Christopher Hooton. Metro, 27th April 2012

So what of this second series? Well, it's started in good form, with some of the best handled sexual-comedy I've seen in a while.

Written by Tom Chant. The Comedy Journal, 26th April 2012

Following on from last week's droll, awkward tension, the second episode of Simon Amstell's gentle meta-sitcom continues in the same vein. This week, the 'Simon Amstell' character begins to seek (and beg) for alternative living arrangements and is desperate for the part of Ariel in a producer friend's new production of The Tempest ("Who's playing Prospero, June Sarpong?" snaps Auntie Liz). Once again, Rebecca Front steals the show as Simon's mum, Tanya, with a horde of smutty outbursts - "Clive is a generous, kind man. Let him have a wank in the loft" - and an outburst at Liz's husband Barry in the episode's finale. So far, the second series feels like more of the same. But the witty, understated dialogue make half an hour in Grandma's House strangely entertaining.

Ben Williams, Time Out, 26th April 2012

The acting in this suburban hell sitcom keeps getting better. Watch as Sam Spiro vies for the attentions of Simon Amstell (who is celebrating some good career news) by showing off a fancy-dress costume. Meanwhile, her husband, Barry, is even more uptight than she is as he comes up with excuses to get out of lending Amstell his flat - which could be good news for love-struck alpha male Clive, who looks almost like a saint next to him as he toils away in the loft.

Metro, 26th April 2012

Series two goes up a gear when the superb Vincent Franklin arrives as Barry, husband of ratty aunt Liz (Samantha Spiro). Barry has mucus and a morbid obsession with rolling news, but he also has a flat in London that Simon Amstell (Simon Amstell) wants to borrow.

Barry fits right in as another source of tension that can't quite be smothered by domestic ritual. His pomposity is a good counterpoint to Clive (James Smith), who's getting more vulnerable, stuck in the loft fixing a leak. Clive emerges at the end for a tremendous comic pay-off.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 26th April 2012

Simon Amstell has cunningly managed to deflect potential criticism of his acting skills in this sitcom in which he plays a version of himself.

"I'm doing vulnerability," he explained in last week's opener to season two. "I'm stiff in real life."

In which case, his performance here is absolutely bang on the money as he surfs the lumpy seas of his family's bitter squabbles with a rictus grin that is pitched midway between polite boredom and panic.

What this sitcom does so well is capture the ­claustrophobia of ­families who are close almost to the point of throttling one another.

"Isn't it nice we can all sit in a room together without any tension," his mother Tanya (Rebecca Front) lies tonight as her sister, Liz, arrives for another visit.

And Liz's husband Barry (Vincent Franklin) joins the cast this week.

He's a tedious, self-important git with post-nasal drip who is annoyingly reluctant to help Simon escape from his grandma's house by agreeing to rent him his flat in Soho.

The humour and the language in Grandma's House isn't ­nana-friendly.

But, as Simon and his cousin Adam discover grandpa's little secret up in the loft, there's a gag tonight about Jurassic Park that is a clear contender for one-liner of the year.

Jane Simon, The Daily Mirror, 26th April 2012

Rebecca Front has fun tonight as Simon Amstell's potty-mouthed mother Tanya in this sharply observed sitcom. A reconciliation with her sister Liz (Samantha Spiro) turns sour when Liz's mucus-ridden husband wavers on whether to let Simon borrow his flat in Soho. Much of the comedy revolves around a stash of pornography uncovered in the attic but it is the brilliant characterisation of toxic family relationships that brings in most of the laughs.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Daily Telegraph, 25th April 2012

In the second episode in this new series of Simon Amstell's queasy postmodern sitcom, Simon Amstell, played by Simon Amstell, decides that it might be time for him to move out of his titular accommodation and into something a little more detached from his bickering relatives. Fortunately he may have found a saviour in the form of his Uncle Barry. As ever, Amstell's heavily self-referential script and performance make for a uniquely awkward viewing experience.

Ben Arnold, The Guardian, 25th April 2012

Simon Amstell returned with a second series of his very funny sitcom, Grandma's House, in which he plays a version of himself as a neurotic, gay, Jewish ex-TV presenter. Has his acting improved or do I just mind less this time around? The writing was as pointed as ever and the cast still first class, in particular Rebecca Front and James Smith (both alumni of The Thick of It), respectively playing the pushy mother Tanya and her blundering twit of an ex-beau, Clive.

This nicely rambling opener started with Simon waking up next to a 16-year-old boy and ended with Grandpa's armchair going up in flames. It takes a rare comic eye to join those dots with so little obvious effort. Those who saw his self-flagellating stand-up on TV recently will be wondering why he hates himself so much.

Phil Hogan, The Observer, 22nd April 2012

The tortured mophead seeks a comic cure.

Written by Holly Williams. The Independent on Sunday, 22nd April 2012

To anyone fond of complaining there are no funny women on TV these days, I say only this: watch Rebecca Front taking hold of Simon Amstell's comedy vehicle Grandma's House and making it her own every Thursday night for the next five weeks on BBC2. Cracking stuff. No wonder Amstell's character wants to move out.

Ian Hyland, The Daily Mail, 21st April 2012

Simon Amstell's sitcom Grandma's House is unlikely to return for a third series, his co-writer Dan Swimer has said.

Written by Jay Richardson. Chortle, 20th April 2012

Simon Amstell sitcom Grandma's House began its second series with a modest audience last night, early viewing figures reveal.

Written by Paul Millar. Digital Spy, 20th April 2012

My favourite scene involved Simon Amstell discovering the age of a one-night stand he'd brought home. "Sixteen. Well, it's not illegal. It's not a betrayal of trust. I'm not a teacher."

Written by Patrick Smith. The Daily Telegraph, 20th April 2012

In Grandma's House, Tanya worries almost constantly about her son Simon, whether it's to do with his faltering career or a fallow patch in his sex life. The self-reflexive comedy has got even more so for the second series, with "Amstell" the character responding to reactions to the performance of Amstell the actor: "It's good acting! I'm doing vulnerability... I'm stiff in real life!" he protests, after Tanya questions his suitability for the family comedy he's just sold to the BBC. I'm not convinced that Tanya's ghastly boyfriend, Clive, would have been quite so jocular about Simon's one-night stand with a 16-year-old ("If there's grass on the wicket, let's play cricket," he says, in blokey solidarity). But it's very funny all the same.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 20th April 2012

The secret of the superb Grandma's House is that Simon Amstell can't act - while all around him are acting their socks off - making him a perfect stranger in his own life.

Written by Keith Watson. Metro, 20th April 2012

It seems the second series has found its home, with a sharper pace and more tangible hilarity than first time round. So we should all be very proud of Simon Amstell, who, in the assured words of his garrulous television mother, has become a "real-life Paula Abdul".

Written by Anoosh Chakelian. On the Box, 20th April 2012

What I found so endearing about Grandma's House (and maybe if I'd stuck with Series 1 I would have discovered this sooner) is that was so warm, real and actually quite sweet in a strange way.

The Custard TV, 19th April 2012

There is a concerted effort to re-introduce most of the cast over the course of the episode, so if you're new to Grandma's House, this would be a perfectly good time to give it a chance. And pre-existing fans, yes, it's still on good form.

Written by Nick Bryan. The Digital Fix, 19th April 2012

Grandma's House is a dark, smart, Jewish comedy - family sitcom for our age.

Written by Sam Wollaston. The Guardian, 19th April 2012

'They're going to let you act on television? Why?' Yes, Simon Amstell's curious meta-sitcom returns tonight and it's just as flawed and intriguing as ever. This opener sees the aftermath of an MDMA-addled night out. Simon can't get rid of the 16-year-old he's picked up and, as usual, things are tense between Jackie, Liz and Clive with Simon alternating between tentative mediation and accidental provocation. There's still an air of semi-deliberate awkwardness about Grandma's House, with the excellent turns from comedy veterans such as Rebecca Front accentuating both the tension produced by the limitations of Amstell's lead performance and the self-consciousness of the show's premise. But we've got a feeling that's exactly the way he likes it.

Phil Harrison, Time Out, 19th April 2012

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