Sophie Raworth

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie - wearing its yeas well

The plotting is lazy, but this big-screen reboot of the much-loved sitcom gets by thanks to its stars and to the endless goodwill cameos.

Donald Clarke, The Irish Times, 29th June 2016

Taking the Flak is dependent on collegiate war stories too, rather more literally in this case since BBC2's new comedy is about foreign correspondents covering a small African war that has just got big. For Harry Chambers, the local stringer, this is a good news/bad news deal. On the one hand, his long service in this grim station may finally be rewarded with a few seconds' airtime on the main bulletins. On the other, he is almost certain to be "bigfooted" - edged out by the arrival of a more famous colleague, whose in-depth research consists in pumping the hotel waiter for basic facts 40 seconds before a live two-way with Sophie Raworth (who appears as herself). The fact that BBC News felt comfortable about allowing its anchors and studio to add verisimilitude to the comedy tells you something about its lack of real bite. And although this comedy, too, is built on the black humour of a closed cadre of professionals ("Would you like your rooms on the shooting side or the mortar side?" a hotel receptionist asked the arriving hacks), there's never a sense that you're just eavesdropping. Everything's effortfully designed to get an audience reaction, most effortfully with a running gag about a World Service reporter's irritable bowel problem. And whereas the crap in Getting On smells like the real thing, the crap in Taking the Flak is more like a plastic joke-shop turd.

It is a great subject for a comedy and it does have its moments, whether it's the interplay between a producer struggling in the field and a desk producer who has enough time on his hands to make Daleks out of coffee cups, or the skewed cultural grasp of the local fixer ("Goodfellas... my favourite comedy movie! That Joe Pesci!"). But while Getting On cares about being true first and hardly seems to care whether you laugh or not, Taking the Flak cares so much that you feel almost embarrassed when you don't laugh as often as you'd like to.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 9th July 2009