The Job Lot. Natalie (Laura Aikman).

Laura Aikman

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Review: Gavin & Stacey Christmas special

Nothing could bring a lump to the throat like this moment.

Christopher Stevens, Daily Mail, 26th December 2019

Gavin & Stacey: A Special Christmas review

The Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special is full of love and laughs, and leaves room for another return visit to Barry Island. Spoilers ahead...

Juliette Harrisson, Den Of Geek, 25th December 2019

Gavin & Stacey Christmas special 2019, review

A funny, poignant and perfectly pitched return for one of the best comedies of recent years.

Anita Singh, The Telegraph, 25th December 2019

Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, review

James Corden and Ruth Jones reunite to remind us of a kinder sort of comedy.

Ed Cumming, The Independent, 25th December 2019

Stop/Start was written and stars Jack Docherty who I most remember from his Channel Five chat show but who has recently been very active on radio. In fact Stop/Start is based on Doherty's successful Radio 4 sitcom with cast members Kerry Godliman and John Thomson also accompanying the writer for this small screen adaptation. Joining their number are Sarah Hadland, Nigel Havers and Laura Aikman who take part in what can best be described as rather an old-fashioned relationship comedy. The central couple of the piece are Rob and Cathy (Doherty and Godliman) who are about to celebrate an anniversary with a party where he has to give a speech. At the same time Rob's old work colleague Georgy (Aikman) moves across the road with her much older husband David (Havers) with the pair quickly being invited to the anniversary party. The third couple Evan and Fiona (Hadland and Thomson) are friends of Rob and Cathy's who are basically at each other's throats primarily arguing about yoghurt. The narrative twist that Stop/Start provides is that each of the six characters stops the action to talk directly to the audience often letting us in on how they're feeling during a certain moment. Despite this narrative device feeling a bit gimmicky at times it does provide some good laughs with Docherty's script containing a lot of clever observational humour. Additionally Rob and Cathy felt like a real couple to me and their problems with the monotony of a long marriage rose above the cliché of other romantic comedies. I also warmed to David and Georgy's story too thanks to a scene at the anniversary party where it was established why the couple were together. The one couple who were ill-served by the script were Evan and Fiona whose arguments felt too contrived to the extent that they didn't feel like fully-realised characters. That being said all six cast members gave it their best with Godliman particularly excelling in the role of the put-upon Cathy. Furthermore I didn't think the laughter track added anything and the use of The Ting Tings' 'Shut Up and Let Me Go' made the piece feel dated from the get-go. But that being said, of the three Comedy Playhouse pilots, Stop/Start is the one that I feel could easily get a full series due to its great ensemble cast and interesting central premise.

Matt, The Custard TV, 12th March 2016

Preview: Comedy Playhouse, Stop/Start, BBC1

Stop/Start is the sort of sitcom which would prompt the Daily Mail/Express to say "At last, a BBC sitcom that is actually funny." Yes, Stop/Start is pretty broad and pretty old fashioned but it is also genuinely funny, thanks to great performances from a quality cast and a script which mostly stays on the acceptable side of politically incorrect old hat.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 11th March 2016

Stop / Start review

Jack Docherty's wedded radio sitcom makes a blissful (ish) leap onto the small screen.

Brian Donaldson, The List, 4th March 2016

A sitcom that I've stuck with sporadically since its inception is The Job Lot, which returned for its third series this week. The Job Lot certainly had a shaky start when it debuted back in 2013 primarily due to it being coupled with the woeful Vicious on prime time ITV. However it was rehabilitated last year thanks to a refreshed look, an anarchic vibe and a new channel in ITV2. This first episode was built around a rather traditional gag in which Karl (Russell Tovey) thought girlfriend Natalie (Laura Aikman) was pregnant even though it was Trish (Sarah Hadland) who actually suspected she might be having a baby. Although the misheard rumour is quite a well-worn comic trope I felt the writing team more than pulled it off thanks to the way in which each gag was timed. The sporadic use of the sociopathic Angela (Jo Enwright) also helped to break up the main plot with the job centre's most picky employee later becoming involved in Trish's story. Apart from the snappy writing, what makes The Job Lot work so well is the cast and in particular the three leading players. As Karl, Russell Tovey exceeds at playing the beleaguered everyman who feels that he should be in a better job despite making no attempts to leave his current employment. Meanwhile Sarah Hadland is fantastic as the hyper Trish who stumbles from one crisis to the next with this series seemingly seeing her want to have a baby. But for me The Job Lot has always been about Angela, a brilliant comic creation whose actions, though often cruel, feel oddly believable. Despite its appearance on one of the younger channels I feel that The Job Lot is a traditional sitcom masquerading as something a lot edgier. Whilst this isn't a bad thing I feel nothing about the episode was particularly memorable and most of the gags were pretty easy to guess. Thankfully this is a series with a fantastic cast and therefore, if it continues to find an audience, I can definitely see The Job Lot returning for another series.

Matt, The Custard TV, 11th October 2015