Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em actress Michele Dotrice is due to appear in Gary Barlow's musical stage version of Calendar Girls. Michele confessed she "feels sorry for the paying public" who will have to see her in her birthday suit!Hayley Minn, The Mirror, 17th January 2017
Comedy, they say, is subjective. I compared the first story of the new series of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith's Inside No. 9 with Chaucer's Prologue, thereby offending at least one reader who thought its "puerile humour" as "flatulent as its one-dimensional figures". If he hated last night's play, The 12 Days of Christine, it will be for different reasons. Humour did not really come into this dark tale, and if Pemberton played one of his usual sympathetic gay men, Sheridan Smith gave tragic depth to its central character, Christine.
It began with the camera focusing on a Christmas bauble, dully reflecting the intermittent flashes of the lights on its tree. Later, a flickering fluorescent light would extend the clue: this was a play, delivered in 12 fragments spaced over a decade, about a human memory's spasmodic grasp. The Saturnalian confusions of the first scene parodied what we would, by the end, realise was Christine's friable mental conditional.
It is New Year's Eve and she, dressed as a nun, is back from a party having copped off with a pretend fireman. The next scene, set on Valentine's Day, by which time she and Adam are an item, reveals she is a shoe-fitter, flat-sharing with an unsympathetic science student studying, as it happens, "measurable magnitudes".
As she and Adam's relationship progresses through marriage, sleepless parenthood, the death of her father and separation, Christine becomes half-convinced that she is being haunted by her goofy first boyfriend who, she has forgotten, died at the age of 16. Christine has, says her mother, a memory like a sieve. At this stage, the viewer will be more interested in the thought that Christine has deliberately blocked the lad out and that he has come back into her life seeking revenge. A crash in which Christine is injured appears later to have been caused by him walking in front of her car.
Shearsmith and Pemberton have long been interested in ghost stories, finding an affinity between their breaches of realism and comedy's transgressions. What is remarkable is they have used this trope and a troupe of comedy actors - notably the excellent Michele Dotrice, who plays Christine's mum - to make a serious statement about the supernatural. A haunting, it is strongly suggested, is a symptom of mental illness, in this caser early-onset dementia. Life for Christine has become a nightmare version of her favourite game: blind man's bluff.
The final scene is set again at Christmas, this time around a family table, in which all appears to have been restored. Adam and Christine are back together. Her Alzheimic father, who had died, is alive once more. She is presented with a book of photos, her life in pictures. She feels it "flashing by" - and with sudden, awful clarity, Christine works out what has happened. So do we. Her son returns from a nativity play dressed as an angel. Her favourite CD, Con te Partiro, strikes up, sung by an artist known for his physical rather than mental blindness.
This was a masterpiece, whether or not my interpretation is right (it could have been one long dying dream). It was shown on Maundy Thursday, presumably, only because, despite its Yule-like bookends, we would not have had the stomach for it at Christmas.Andrew Billen, The Times, 3rd April 2015
If you're wondering why we're not billing this as a comedy, that's because there's almost nothing funny in the latest tale. Instead, it's an utterly superb piece of drama, imbued with an increasing sense of dread - with the almost unguessable sting in the tail that this series delivers so well.
Little should be said about the plot other than that The 12 Days of Christine is set in flat No 9 of a tower block and it begins with a woman dressed as a nun and a man in fireman gear tumbling onto a settee after copping off at a fancy dress party. Hunky Tom Riley is Adam and Sheridan Smith gives another multi-faceted, stunning performance as the troubled Christine. Sitcom legend Michele Dotrice plays her mum.
Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton are the strange, slightly upsetting gift that keeps on giving. In this second series, they reprise their talent for macabre tales united only by their being well-written, tightly plotted and taking place inside a door with a No 9 on it. Tonight's episode stars Sheridan Smith as Christine, a sales clerk whose life we observe in impressionistic blasts. Can you unpick her story before she herself says: "Oh, I know what this is ..."? And yes, 70s people, that is Michele Dotrice!John Robinson, The Guardian, 2nd April 2015
Sheridan Smith stars in a story that sees Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith departing radically from their usual claustrophobic black comedy; there is little to laugh at in The 12 Days Of Christine, a study of time and memory that resembles a short enigmatic arthouse film. In a dozen scenes coinciding with public or personal red-letter days, Smith plays a woman passing through marriage, motherhood, divorce and bereavement, with Paul Copley, Michele Dotrice, Tom Riley and the writers in supporting roles.
Alarming things keep happening to Christine, making her increasingly troubled and presenting the viewer with a series of puzzles. Why, for example, does the heroine's flatmate mention mathematical number theory? Why are we subjected to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman warbling Time To Say Goodbye? Are these significant clues, or just red herrings?John Dugdale, The Times, 29th March 2015
Sharing is not a concept the teaching staff understand at Greybridge School. So Trevor's not happy when caretaker Gareth, who's sleeping in the classrooms, moves in with him - and then makes moves on his mother Rita (Michele Dotrice). It changes Gareth so much - "The voices in my head have gone, I'm not drinking from puddles any more" - that he even thinks he's ready to be a geography teacher again.
Also sharing (although a classroom rather than a bed) is Miss Postern and Mr Church. It's not the most sparkling end to the series, although the moment Catherine Tate's nose collides with a car window is a real gem of slapstick comedy.Jane Rackham, Radio Times, 10th October 2014