Chickens. Image shows from L to R: Cecil (Simon Bird), George (Joe Thomas), Bert (Jonny Sweet). Copyright: Big Talk Productions
Chickens

Chickens

  • TV sitcom
  • Sky One / Channel 4
  • 2011 - 2013
  • 7 episodes (1 series)

Sitcom set in a sleepy English village during the first world war. It follows three young men who are not on the front line fighting. Stars Simon Bird, Joe Thomas, Jonny Sweet, Sarah Daykin, Emerald Fennell and more.

Press clippings Page 2

The only real way to judge the first episode of any new sitcom is by the number of laughs per minute. I managed four in the 24 minutes (including ad break) of Chickens (Sky 1); which is substantially above average, given that some time has to be spent establishing the characters and the sit in the sitcom. Chickens began life as a pilot for Channel 4. Not having seen the pilot, I've no idea why it got turned down, but I'd be willing to bet Sky took a punt on commissioning a series on the proviso that writers Simon Bird, Joe Thomas and Jonny Sweet made it as much like The Inbetweeners as possible.

Chickens is set in the fictional town of Rittle-on-Sea in August 1914, just after the outbreak of the first world war. Much of the pre-publicity for the show has focused on the risky nature of its situation and the way it hopes to invert sexual stereotypes by placing three non-combatant men as a minority in a village run by women. Save that for a dinner party conversation, because Bird and Thomas are basically playing their Inbetweeners characters.

Bird is Cecil, who has been turned down by the army for having flat feet, but could just as well be Inbetweener Will. Both are brighter and better-intentioned than everyone else around, but end up misunderstood and picked on. Thomas is conscientious objector George, but could just as well be Simon, the Inbetweener who takes himself terribly seriously and isn't as bright as he thinks he is. Sweet wasn't in The Inbetweeners but his character, Bert the Bounder, could well have been. None of which is a problem as far as I'm concerned. I loved The Inbetweeners and I enjoyed this. And with luck it will get even better when the characters have settled in and Barry Humphries makes an appearance.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 23rd August 2013

Originally a Channel 4 pilot, the playfully anachronistic Chickens stars Inbetweeners Joe Thomas and Simon Bird, alongside Jonny Sweet. They play George, Cecil and Bert, left behind in Rittle-On-Sea in 1914 as the rest of the men head off to the great war. Living together in a cottage daubed with scornful graffiti by the townswomen, the trio - a conscientious objector, a flat-footed reject and a bounder - make comedic hay of their moral and sexual shame in this highly promising opener.

David Stubbs, The Guardian, 22nd August 2013

Inbetweeners best buds Joe Thomas and Simon Bird reunite for this World War I comedy that also stars stand-up Jonny Sweet - and it's weirdly like Will and Simon have gone back a century and replaced Neil with some other daft bloke. The set-up is that pacifist George (Thomas), flat-footed Cecil (Bird) and randy loon Bert (Sweet) are the only men left in a village after all the proper blokes have marched off to war. This makes them very, very unpopular with the womenfolk.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 22nd August 2013

Next year we can expect a glut of dramas and documentaries marking the centenary of the start of the First World War, but cheeky Sky1 has snuck in first with this misfiring comedy set during the Great War.

Don't expect brave Tommies and battlefield pets, though. The three main characters, Cecil, George and Bert, are all at home in Blighty while the war rages on the continent. The reasons why they're not fighting? Flat feet, pacifism and an obliviousness to the fact there is actually a war going on, respectively.

Written by and starring The Inbetweeners' Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, and long-time collaborator Jonny Sweet, the characters feel overly familiar: Cecil's a bumptious prig, George is confused and lovelorn. Only Sweet's libidinous idiot Bert adds some vim to the laboured reality of the men being reviled by the womenfolk of their village.

David Crawford, Radio Times, 22nd August 2013

Chickens: Inbetweeners play overgrown schoolboys again

The stars of the Channel 4 sitcom may be a little old to be playing sex-obsessed teenagers "but that hasn't stopped us before", says Simon Bird.

Claire Webb, Radio Times, 22nd August 2013

Chickens, Sky1, review

It is possible that with a bit of polish, and much better script editing, it could, eventually, turn into something half-decent. But I suspect that, watching this, there may be laughter over at Channel 4. And not the sort that Sky were after.

Terry Ramsey, The Telegraph, 22nd August 2013

Chickens: preview

Under the broad, knockabout humour, there's some razor-sharp wits at work too.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 22nd August 2013

This endearingly daft sitcom created by and starring Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Jonny Sweet and Inbetweeners alumni Joe Thomas and Simon Bird first saw the light as a C4 pilot with enormous potential.

Sky1 smartly snapped it up, giving tryhard prig Cecil (Bird), wimpy lovebird George (Thomas) and empty-headed ladies' man Bert (Sweet) a welcome six episodes to spend justifying their behaviour, staying at home while the Great War rages. Although, given the fury of the local womenfolk, the Somme might have been a better option as Bonfire Night arrives and a Guy is required.

Bird and Thomas more or less reprise their old characters but are none the worse for it, leaving Sweet to steal the show with his blissfully, ignorant posho. The theme tune is overused and one or two set-ups are hackneyed, but performances, attention to detail and all-round silliness carry the day.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 22nd August 2013

From Inbetweeners to Chickens

We visit the set of Sky1's first world war sitcom, which marks the major TV writing debut of its stars Joe Thomas, Simon Bird and Jonny Sweet.

Harriet Gibsone, The Guardian, 17th August 2013

"The world has no room for cowards," Robert Louis Stevenson maintained. Sky's new comedy does, though, as it follows three loathed (their house is emblazoned with "Just Die" and "Coward Cottage") draft-dodging chickens who have, quite wisely, ducked out of the carnage of the First World War. The trio of cowards, played by Inbetweeners stars Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, who also, jointly, wrote this, and Jonny Sweet, gel nicely together in this undemanding satire. "If you were really keen to help, you would have killed yourself to raise moral," yells a crone at Simon Bird's flat-footed Cecil, who is knitting for the war effort. Bird, Sweet and Thomas are all adept comic actors, and the wonderful Emma Fryer cameos, too.

Ben Walsh, The Independent, 16th August 2013

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