"A funny family sitcom" is not a phrase I often find myself using these days. But this Jason Byrne creation is that rare thing - and it doesn't take a whole series to bed in. It's offered up a high percentage of laughs-per-line since its debut. That's partly due to the writing, of course, but equal credit must go to the ensemble cast.
Last week, I highlighted Pauline McLynn, who plays Jason's fictional mother, but the star of this episode is Dominic Applewhite (The King's Speech, The Inbetweeners) as belligerent son Dylan, who delivers such telling teenage lines as: "Don't leave me with Gran and Grandad - they smell of Countdown."Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 11th February 2012
Father Figure, Radio 2's latest sitcom about the trials of a modern house husband, written by and starring comedian Jason Byrne, at least jettisoned the usual clattering of crockery and the sound of a front door slamming that invariably points to a semi-detached in Chislehurst. In fact, the family in question were on their way to a wedding and crammed into a hatchback somewhere along the M4.
Byrne was Tom, the put-upon father and husband marooned in the driver's seat fielding questions about when he'll get a bigger car, when they will arrive at their destination, will the vol-au-vents survive the journey and is the bride pregnant. Chief moaner was Mary (Pauline McLynn, better know as Father Ted's Mrs Doyle), Tom's God-fearing mother who couldn't hide her disapproval at her daughter-in-law's decision to hire a cleaner and was a martyr to her husband, Pat, and his failing memory ("you can't even find your way about the house"). Tom's wife, Elaine, was only marginally more reasonable, exhorting her husband to use the hard shoulder to avoid the traffic that had come to a standstill.
Of course, a standstill was required to accommodate half an hour of bickering designed to show the cultural and ideological gaps that remain between the generations. An interminable gag around the word "dogging" ("In the old days of dogging, you'd get a prize for best-dressed," declared Mary) not only underlined the shifting patterns of language but also the way that contemporary comedies, despite acknowledging the variable family set-ups, continue to peddle ancient clichés of dotty old ladies, bossy wives and terminally embarrassed teens.Fiona Sturges, The Independent, 9th February 2012
Imagine the scene: you're trapped in a motorway traffic jam with bickering parents, a wife who does not get on with them, and a surly teenage son embarrassed by you all. The comic potential is obvious and writer and star Jason Byrne does not waste a single word or nuance in getting as many laughs as he can from this cross-generation claustrophobia.
The best lines are delivered by Pauline McLynn, who plays his extremely religious mother. She believes "dogging" to be the proud display of pampered pets, which leads to more double entendres on the subject than is right or proper.Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 4th February 2012
Father Figure (Radio 2, 10.00pm) is a new four-part family situation comedy, written by and starring Irish comedian Jason Byrne. He plays Tom Whyte (a version of himself) with Lucy Montgomery as his wife and a supporting cast of such stars as Pauline McLynn and Dermot Crowley, and others who've become headliners since the pilot of this show went out three years ago.Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 3rd February 2012