Andrew Davies (I)

  • Writer

Known for: Game On (Writer)

Press clippings

Interview: Andrew Davies

What a Gay Play centres on an evening at married couple Matt and Lee's where their friends soon lose inhibitions with each other, along the way looking under some of the common stereotypes of what gay life is, especially in 2014, post gay marriage and in a vein similar to Queer as Folk and Looking. There's unrequited love in the room, Matt's new work colleague and scene newbie Josh who's been befriended at the gym.

The New Current, 14th July 2014

From Monty Python and The Holy Grail to Blackadder, it's long been established that one of the underlying rules of historical comedy is to subvert the period setting with knowingly incongruous nods to the present day. Which is all well and good when employed as part of a wider comic arsenal, but cheap and wearying when overdone.

Unfortunately, that's the fatal undoing of Jessica Hynes' Edwardian-era sitcom Up The Women, which drills away at the supposedly hilarious spectacle of characters from the past failing to comprehend things we now take for granted.

Thus we have Adrian Scarborough's hapless caretaker getting into a pickle over the installation of a light bulb, and Rebecca Front's bullying snob sniffily dismissing electricity as a fad that'll never catch on. These moments, I should point out, are clearly regarded by Hynes and her five co-writers as rib-tickling conceits of massive comic import. Given that Hynes is a fine actress and co-writer of fondly regarded sitcom Spaced, the unrelenting weakness of her latest effort is hugely disappointing. It's not unreasonable to expect more from one of Britain's foremost comedy performers.

The only truly notable aspect of Up The Women is that it's a traditional studio-bound sitcom accompanied by a live laughter track, an ancient form new to "high-brow" BBC 4. But that presents its own problems; you can clearly hear the underwhelmed audience almost willing themselves to laugh as gag after gag falls flat.

Lines such as "I've had to swaddle mother again, and she really does put up quite a fight" and "Does your husband know you're cavorting with skirted anarchists?" have the rhythmic cadence of funny dialogue, but they're not actually witty in themselves. A sense of embarrassingly forced whimsy hangs over its attempts to revel in florid language à la Blackadder. But Hynes and co aren't in the same league as Curtis and Elton at their peak.

The characters speak in a combination of BBC Edwardiana and anachronistic contemporary argot, which, if one were feeling charitable, could be regarded as a parody of Andrew Davies' penchant for dropping contemporary terms into his period dramas. But the paucity of wit on display means it's all for naught.

Hynes plays a timid yet worldly-wise idealist whose belief in the suffragette movement throws her into sharp conflict with Front's stubbornly immovable conservative. And that's about it. All concerned - including an almost unrecognisable Vicki Pepperdine from Getting On as a daffy, buck-toothed housekeeper - deliver game performances, but no amount of gusto can compensate for such poor material. Having wasted such a fine cast, Up The Women merely wanders along to unremarkable effect.

Even taking into account the inherent difficulties of introducing a brand new sitcom over the course of 30 minutes, this lifeless groaner has to be regarded as a failure.

The Scotsman, 25th May 2013

Andrew Davies & Peter Davison: A Very Peculiar Practice

The writer and star talk about the cult 80s drama as it's released on DVD.

David Brown, Radio Times, 9th October 2011

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