Golden Years review

Gentle comedy about elderly bank-robbers ends up reconfirming the very cliches it sets out to challenge.

David Kettle, The Arts Desk, 28th April 2016

In its effort to be a warm, feel-good story, there are times when Sunshine threatens to drown us in treacle. By the 17th time cute little Joe has his hair tousled by his grandad (Bernard Hill) in another golden scene, you may find you're longing for a bit of an edge to things. In one scene we even hear the Farm's Altogether Now over the two of them gardening, just to ram home what a heart-warmingly marvellous pair they are. But grit your teeth and get through it, because for all its soppiness, Sunshine pays dividends, in the tragicomic tale of Joe's dad Bing (Steve Coogan) and his all-consuming gambling habit. Coogan is excellent again, and in the moving later scenes he reveals a talent for pathos you might not expect.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 14th October 2008

Sunshine is wonderful stuff. This particular type of sunshine, written by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey (the team behind Early Doors and The Royle Family: Queen of Sheba), tells the story of three generations of a family from the 1970s. Steve Coogan plays a likeable young man who married his childhood sweetheart; he is funny, cheerful and optimistic, someone capable - according to Grandad (Bernard Hill) - of charming the nuts off a squirrel. Sadly he is also a compulsive gambler who squanders what little money the family has and risks losing everything that matters to him. Sunshine doesn't have the fly-on-the-wall naturalism of The Royle Family, but it does share its warmth and its humanity.

David Chater, The Times, 7th October 2008

This is the latest series from Craig Cash and Phil Mealey, who wrote BBC2's quietly brilliant Early Doors. Cash also co-wrote (and played Dave in) The Royle Family, so there's pedigree here. You'd expect wry Mancunian wit and warm character comedy - and that's exactly what you get.

The story centres on Steve Coogan as Bing, a lovable but hopeless chancer given to joking his way out of trouble. He leads not so much a hand-to-mouth existence as hand-to-bookies, and so spends much of the time in the doghouse with girlfriend Bernadette (beautifully played by Lisa Millett). There's quality support from Bernard Hill as Bing's dad, whose idea of babysitting is to wake his grandson up for an evening of tall stories about how he gave Hitler a Chinese burn. And Cash and Mealey turn up as bin-men. It's gently amusing, with a loving attention to detail, but don't expect belly laughs - it's classed as a comedy drama.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 7th October 2008

Craig Cash and Phil Mealey script this bittersweet comedy drama about 'Bing' Crosby, a lovable loser with a destructive streak of gambling addiction that keeps him never too far away from the bookie's counter. It has that essential northern grit to it that you'd expect from the writers of Early Doors and The Royle Family, and Steve Coogan is great as Bing, giving the character a more paired down reality than grotesques like Alan Partridge and Tommy Saxondale. Cash and Mealey pop in as comedy bin men, but the real honours here go to the exceptional Bernard Hill as Bing's dad. A highly promising start.

Mark Wright, The Stage, 6th October 2008