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)
- 43 (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 wasn't just Lee's complete lack of drive getting in the way! Not only are friends Tim and Daisy on hand to cause problems, but Lee also 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.
Series 6 opened with Tim away, working in Germany. That didn't mean Lee's life got any easier, however, with incidents involving rabbits and childrens' parties, therapy, amateur dramatics, and a particularly eventful skiing holiday with both Lucy and Daisy. However, a boating adventure may offer the chance Lee's long been wishing for...
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.
A key strength of Not Going Out was in the friendship between Lee and Tim and the banter between them. This marvellous chemistry was watered down a little in Series 3, but returned to earlier form in the fourth and fifth series.
Series 6 opened with the most drastic change to the comedy yet: Tim Vine's departure from the cast, in order to pursue other projects. The tension (and possible relationship) between Lee and Lucy had played an increasing point of humour through previous years, and Tim's absence allowed this to be played with further. Unfortunately, some viewers found the loss of Vine to be one change too many, feeling that the original essence of the show had been lost.
It is undeniable that the dynamic has changed quite a bit since Series 1 and 2, but we are amongst those who have enjoyed the different avenues that characters and plots have explored. We would quite like to see some real progression on the 'will-they-won't-they' Lee/Lucy relationship question, however: we're hoping Series 7 may offer a little of this!