The world premiere of the new play Early Birds, from the writers of Birds of a Feather, Maurice Gran and Laurence Marks, tells the incredible yet true story of the birth of one of the nation's favourite sitcoms.Theatre Weekly, 12th July 2018
It was a little discombobulating to see Birds Of A Feather back on our screens after 15 years, albeit transposed from the BBC to ITV. Essex sisters Sharon (Pauline Quirke) and Tracey (Linda Robson) were initially estranged, while maneater Dorien (Lesley Joseph) had hit the big time by writing a 50 Shades-style bonkbuster under the nom de plume "Foxy Cohen". After a series of unfortunate events, they were all reunited under the same roof by the end of the first episode, a housing situation complicated by Sharon's teenage son Travis (played, rather confusingly, by Pauline Quirke's real-life offspring Charlie Quirke) and the late arrival of another sibling, Garth (former Busted heartthrob Matt Willis), with his new Aussie partner and a kid in tow.
Stuffing all these bodies into one Chigwell house is a smart sitcom move, although past masters Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran didn't need proximity and antagonism to craft gags, firing them out willy-nilly from the off. With pointed jabs at Cameron and Osborne, it made me wonder: did the show used to be so politically minded? In performance terms, Robson, Quirke and Joseph had the benefit of a recent theatre tour warm-up, so it seemed very much like busybody-ness as usual. As yet, there have been no references to The Only Way Is Essex, but surely it's only a matter of time.Graeme Virtue, The Scotsman, 6th January 2014