Cockroaches. Image shows from L to R: Tom (Daniel Lawrence Taylor), Suze (Esther Smith). Copyright: Big Talk Productions.

Cockroaches

Press Clippings

Episode four of the quirky post-apocalyptic comedy starring Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Esther Smith as Tom and Suze, the hard-done-by survivors of a nuclear war. When their daughter Laura and her peers from the campsite begin to turn a gruesome shade of green, the pair fear the kids have been affected by radiation. Luckily, the smooth-talking doctor (Alexander Armstrong) is on hand to offer a cure for their malady. There is a catch, however, when he asks for an insalubrious favour.

Hannah J Davies, The Guardian, 3rd February 2015

Jack Whitehall & Freddy Syborn on their friendship

It started with a fight at school, but the 26-year-old comedian and 27-year-old writer are now best friends who also work together. "It's a bit like a marriage," says Jack.

Ed Cumming, The Observer, 18th January 2015

Finally we come to ITV2's new post-apocalyptic sitcom Cockroaches written by Freddy Syborn who wrote alongside Jack Whitehall on Bad Education. Although Whitehall does appear in Cockroaches his is a supporting role as Cuckoo's Esther Smith and Hunderby's Daniel Lawrence Taylor take the lead.

Smith and Taylor play Tom and Suze, school friends who hook up just before a nuclear attack wipes out most of the British population. Ten years later, they find themselves walking an arid wasteland alongside their daughter, and product of their hook-up; Laura. The main body of action takes place when the reluctant couple happen upon a camp run by Suze's ex-boyfriend (Whitehall). There's an obvious jealousy between cool and cocky Oscar and the slightly geeky Tom which is magnified when the former sleeps with Suze. Although she later realises her mistake, the whole situation escalates to a final scene involving a Wicker Man and a severed finger.

Syborn has certainly created a unique sitcom in Cockroaches although not all of his ideas are great. My main bugbear in this first episode was the character of Oscar as it appears that Syborn has let Whitehall play the character as broadly as possible.

Luckily both the leads are likeable and Syborn has created two protagonists that I cared about as the episode progressed.

The laugh-out-loud lines were few and far between but I preferred the quieter moments where Suze and Tom tried to decide whether their relationship was based on love or simply convenience.

Despite not being as impressive a showing as it could've been, Cockroaches definitely showed promise due to its unique premise and likeable leads. By the end of episode one I feel that the sitcom had more than found its feet and I look forward to seeing what will happen to our central couple now that Tom is in charge of a rather haphazard post-apocalyptic community.

Matt, The Custard TV, 16th January 2015

Cockroaches, ITV2, review: 'not laugh-out-loud enough'

Jack Whitehall gave a jarring performance in this sitcom from the creators of Bad Education.

Gerard O'Donovan, The Telegraph, 14th January 2015

There are still ideas that don't really have legs, and still they are finding their way past the green light. Take Cockroaches, a new offering from ITV2. The idea of Freddy Syborn's script is that a nuclear holocaust has wiped out most of humanity, leaving teen couple Tom and Suze (Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Esther Smith) to roam the rural wastelands with their small child, conceived in haste on the night the bomb changed everything.

Essentially, it's the classic Seventies drama Survivors with jokes. That's the theory anyway, but alas the laughs are few and far between. The first few minutes, before disaster strikes, promised much. A newscaster warned of impending Armageddon, adding that no one had bothered to tell Africa and South America. The British Prime Minister (Robert Bathurst, not his first time as a comic PM: see also Hislop and Newman's comedy My Dad's the Prime Minister) was happier answering questions in Latin, a bit like You Know Who.

Spool forward a decade, and the future looked very like the past: jokes about not getting any sex, about in-laws, about cultural reference points (Suze reminisced about a blessed yesteryear in which "we had music, we had literature, we had Ant and Dec"). Suze supplied precious breast milk to both father and daughter, a joke much more creepily explored in Little Britain. The cast enlarged when they encountered a tribe of wood-dwelling dropouts led by Oscar (the ubiquitous Jack Whitehall), a Jafaican-spouting trustafarian ("Who talks like that?" wondered Tom). By the end of the first episode, attempting to enact the climactic immolation from The Wicker Man, he had been defeated. Tom accidentally hacked off his wanking finger.

Jasper Rees, The Arts Desk, 13th January 2015

TV review: Cockroaches, ITV2

It won't be the end of the world if you miss Cockroaches, but future episodes promise appearances from Alexander Armstrong and Nigel Planer and it certainly feels worth sticking with.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 13th January 2015

Cockroaches, ITV2 - TV review

Like The Walking Dead with a sillier sense of humour and a British TV budget.

Ellen E. Jones, The Independent, 13th January 2015

Radio Times review

The complete nuclear destruction of society might not seem like the obvious basis for a sitcom, but that's how this new ITV2 series kicks off. Youngsters Tom and Suze are brought together romantically by their assumed imminent death, only to get stuck with each other after the bomb drops.

Despite the slightly tasteless premise Cockroaches is actually pretty funny, with a vein of dark comedy well mined from the tropes of post-apocalyptic films combined with a very British rationalisation of events. Also, watch out for a fun role from Jack Whitehall (who co-wrote Bad Education with Cockroaches writer Freddy Syborn) - he pops up as Suze's street-talking ex, Oscar.

Huw Fullerton, Radio Times, 13th January 2015

Radio Times review

It's one long, surreal trip down memory lane for ageing impresario and self-styled noble, Count Arthur Strong. Recalling his teddy-boy days via unreliable flashback, the episode riffs on West Side Story, Oliver! and even The Great Escape. It all begins when a guilt offering from Michael (Rory Kinnear) takes Arthur out of the cocoon of Bulent's greasy caff and out to the airfield. Thanks to a cleverly constructed misunderstanding, an ordinary scene of two people walking towards some light aircraft becomes something hysterical.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 13th January 2015

Why post-apocalyptic Britain isn't the end of the world

Fleeces, So Solid Crew and third nipples - Freddy Syborn, writer of ITV2's new black comedy, explains why armageddon doesn't have to be doom and gloom.

Freddy Syborn, The Guardian, 13th January 2015