Press clippings

I Want My Wife Back will need to do better

In the end, though, this was a comedy that was mainly stuck in neutral. It would really need to shift up a gear or three to make me want to watch a second series.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Telegraph, 23rd May 2016

New Ben Miller sitcom from Worst Week Of My Life writers

Ben Miller will be reunited with the writers of The Worst Week Of My Life, Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni, for new BBC One sitcom I Want My Wife Back.

British Comedy Guide, 4th March 2015

The predictable parts of Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni's laddish new comedy drama about four thirtysomething friends from Stockport (football, drinking, women trouble) are buoyed by a lively script with some good one-liners. The gang comprises would-be alpha male Hodge (Lee Boardman), nerdy underdog Glyn (Craig Parkinson), chirpy divorcee Beggsy (William Ash) and pessimistic Daz (Stephen Walters). In tonight's opening episode Hodge narrowly avoids wife Kath's (Rebekah Staton) fury after botching their wedding anniversary plans.

Toby Dantzic, The Telegraph, 10th January 2013

There now follows a public service announcement: The Royal Bodyguard is the latest series from Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni, the writers of defective Ben Miller vehicle The Worst Week Of My Life.

Even if you weren't privy to that TV insider knowledge before tuning in, engorged and undoubtedly sleepy at the fag end of Boxing Day, you probably had your suspicions within the first minute. That was how long it took for the plucky actor/stuntman playing the newly beloved Prince Philip to be kicked in the face by a horse.

Long-standing employees of both ITV and BBC, Bussell and Sbresni deal heavily in the physical origami and mimeographed pratfalls of farce, and Worst Week - the name now universally shortened as a mark of fiscal respect, since the format has sold in 120 territories - was their industry klondike. With the evergreen and ever-game David Jason as its bumbling fulcrum, The Royal Bodyguard felt like the writing partnership consciously cashing in their hard-earned commercial clout; as well as scripting duties, they shared directing and producing responsibilities too. They must also share the blame.

The concept isn't terrible. The 71-year-old Jason plays gormless career soldier Guy Hubble, hand-picked by the Queen to handle royal security, despite being a Frank Spencer-grade disaster magnet: think Some Monarchs Do 'Ave 'Em. A gifted physical performer, the artist formerly known as Del Boy never seemed less than totally committed in his calamitous role, be it in full military uniform, bowling club blazer or Pa Broon underwear. But in this first episode, where Hubble somehow thwarted a royal assassination attempt at a Commonwealth conference in a Scottish hotel, the direction was flabby and slapdash. Even boilerplate farce relies on precise timing, and everything seemed more than a little off. It doesn't bode well for the rest of the series, and made me nostalgic for Dangermouse, a 30-year-old animated series where Jason proved he could sound dapper, dashing and absolutely charming in the service of Her Majesty.

Graeme Virtue, The Scotsman, 3rd January 2012

I realised that The Royal Bodyguard despised me about five or six minutes in. Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni's new comedy began with a backstory prologue to introduce us to its central character, Guy Hubble, a blazered ex-military jobsworth who has a job supervising the Buckingham Palace car park.

As the Royal Household wait for the Queen to climb into the royal coach, Hubble spots a stray crisp packet on the gravel and leaps forward to spare Her Majesty this distressing sight. And then, seeing that one of the Coldstream Guards is asleep at his post, he inflates the bag and pops it in his face, with a bang like a pistol going off. The coach horses bolt, with the Sovereign dangling from the steps. Having set this disaster in motion, Hubble then puts things rights, seconds away from a crash that would have put Prince Charles on the throne. How did this idiot get a senior post as a royal bodyguard? That's how.

It's not really a complicated comic idea, this. Think Inspector Clouseau and you're halfway there. Hubble, played by David Jason with a bantam-strut of self-regard, is chaos in trousers. But just in case we're a little slow on the uptake, the writers supply an exasperated superior to underline things for us. And then he finishes his little speech with the ponderous line: "With him in that job... anything could happen." Well, thank you for the clarification, but I'd actually worked that out five minutes ago. The character's the idiot, not the viewer. What followed was, as they say, "predictably hilarious", which means not terribly hilarious at all, unless you have a thing about seeing David Jason in his underwear hanging off a balcony. Nothing wrong with a cartoon, of course, but all too often this one is crudely drawn.

Clashing with a pair of sinister Slav assassins who talked about "shaking the vurld to its core", Hubble managed to cock everything up until his final cock-up inadvertantly saved Her Majesty and he was the hero of the hour again. It contained two sight-gags that made me laugh - one when Hubble attempted to eat a lobster with a knife and fork and another when a room-service trolley concealing him began inching out of the room propelled by his fingers - but another attempt at critical charity failed. I wrote in my notes that I thought the faults lay more in the direction than the script, since if it was played a little more deadpan some of the comedy would work much better. But then the credits revealed that the writers had also produced and directed it, so I'm afraid they're just going to have to carry the can.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 27th December 2011

This is David Jason's first new comedy series in 20 years - but what a disappointment it turns out to be.

It was written by Justin Sbresni and Mark Bussell - the creators of The Worst Week Of My Life - but the humour feels creaky and out-dated.

In a set-up suspiciously reminiscent of Rowan Atkinson's hapless spy Johnny English, Jason stars as Guy Hubble who is mistakenly promoted from the Buckingham Palace car park detail to head of Royal security, only to make a predictable hash of everything he touches.

In the first episode tonight, he's at a hotel in Scotland trying to foil an assassination attempt on the Queen.

Just as there are plenty of viewers out there who remain inexplicably enthralled by New Tricks, I suppose there might be a ready-made audience who are prepared to laugh at the sight of Jason in his Y-fronts. I can't see the attraction myself.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 26th December 2011

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