A fast-paced gag-orientated studio-based BBC One sitcom starring Lee Mack as a lazy slacker and Tim Vine as his uptight best mate
- 2006 - 2013 (BBC One)
- 42 (6 series)
- Lee Mack, Tim Vine, Sally Bretton, Katy Wix, Miranda Hart, Megan Dodds, Simon Dutton
- Andrew Collins, Lee Mack, Paul Kerensa, Simon Evans, Peter Tilbury, Derren Litten, Simon Dean, Daniel Peak, Dave Cohen, Simon Griffiths, David Isaac
- Avalon Television
& Arlo Productions
Not Going Out is a light-hearted, fast-paced mainstream sitcom based around the life of a man un-burdened by ambition or drive. Lee deflects criticism and bad news with his trademark wit and one-liners but deep down he is looking for love, a steady job and a flat he can call his own.
In the first series Lee stayed in the flat with an American health fanatic called Kate. Their easy-going, comfortable friendship steadily moved onto potentially romantic ground - a situation complicated by the fact that Lee's best mate Tim was Kate's previous boyfriend.
Kate moved back to America before Series 2 started. Unable to buy the flat himself due to his enduring inability to earn a steady income, Lee was forced to rent the spare room from the flat's new owner - Tim's ambitious younger sister Lucy. Series 3 continued with this premise.
Series 4 saw Lee still desperate to win the affections of his flatmate, Lucy. But it still wasn't plain sailing... and it's not just Lee's complete lack of drive that gets in the way! Trouble seems to find Lee at every turn. Not only are friends Tim and Daisy on hand to cause problems, but also Lee had to cope with stolen drugs, missing OAPs, long-lost daughters and a coma.
In the 5th series Lee turned rocker when he joined Tim's band, cheered on by Tim's ditzy girlfriend Daisy. He also took on the role of carer for his scrounging father; injured himself training for a fun run; and proved his manliness by camping in a dark spooky forest. But would a drunken experiment with Lucy show, once and for all, that love really is in the air?
New 6th Series: Highlights from the new series for Lee include convincing Lucy to spend a weekend on his dad's 'stylish' new boat even though she is terrified of water, finding himself a new girlfriend in a desperate attempt to make Lucy jealous, fighting for her attention when her first love reappears on the scene, and taking advantage of her new found counselling skills as a therapist. Other episodes include Lucy accidentally running over her client's daughter's beloved pet rabbit, Lee and Lucy having to come up with appropriate entertainment for her nine year old god-daughter and her fourteen friends and Lee, Lucy and Daisy getting stuck in a cable car on an Eastern European skiing trip.
Our Review: The BBC finally created a Friday night mainstream sitcom that was actually really funny: but then went and cancelled it! However, for once, the story has a happy ending. The corporation realised just in time they had made a big mistake and to the surprise of everyone they ordered another run after all. The ratings since have showed the recommission was the right decision (Series 5 was the best received yet, with a rise of 1.2 million on Series 4).
The rapid fire delivery of gags in this sitcom is very impressive although, at times, it does make it feel like you're watching a stand-up show rather than a sitcom (but that's not necessarily a major fault considering Tim Vine and Lee Mack's stand-up experience).
A couple of the jokes do fall flat, but when there are more witty lines in a minute of this show than most sitcoms manage in their whole half-hour, who cares?
The second series of NGO did suffer slightly from the introduction of a number of new characters: Barbara the cleaner was not liked by all, and some felt the relationship between Lucy and her older boyfriend Guy was a bit 'clunky'. However, this second series did still achieve the main objective: delivering more gag-filled half-hours into living rooms.
We suggest that the main strength of this comedy is in the friendship between Lee and Tim and the banter that goes on between them. This marvellous chemistry was watered down a little in Series 3, but thankfully there were more Tim-Lee scenes in the fourth run.
We're delighted that the BBC has shown real faith by ordering multiple series at a time but the big news departure of Tim Vine (Vine said he didn't want to make any more - what is he thinking?) looks set to draw a large question mark over the future standard of the show. There will just be the three main characters in this new series, although a new regular will reportedly be introduced towards the end of the series.