Common Ground. Image shows from L to R: Jill (Celia Pacquola), Rupert (Johnny Vegas). Copyright: Baby Cow Productions.

Common Ground

Sky Atlantic comedy drama. 10 episodes (1 series) in 2013. Stars Tom Davis, Eleanor Lawrence, Sean Pertwee, Brendan Coyle, Charles Dance, Amelia Bullmore, Hugo Speer and others.

Press Clippings

Made by Steve Coogan's Baby Cow stable, Common Ground is a collection of ten 15-minute comedy shorts, each set in a neighbourhood in south London. Having featured Simon Day, Amelia Bullmore, Jessica Hynes and Charles Dance in previous weeks, the series concludes with Barry - based around Alex Lowe's octogenarian little Englander character which he honed by calling in to Iain Lee's LBC programme in the mid-2000s. With his wife having run off with a retired financial advisor, Barry embarks on a bucket list with his grandson.

It may not be earth-shatteringly original, but it's worth it just to hear Barry's view on pink candy floss: 'It's like eating Barbara Cartland's minge.' A (fictional) former member of So Solid Crew takes over a church choir in the far-funnier Nell, Ted and Marlon. It quickly descends into a creepy love triangle (with One Foot In the Grave actress Annette Crosbie occasionally chiming in with some unexpected filth); the humour is sharp, surreal and pleasantly wicked in places.

Oliver Keens, Time Out, 4th March 2013

The pick of the closing double-bill in Sky Atlantic's hit-and-miss comedy shorts is Nell, Ted And Marlon, which takes a tongue-in-cheek swipe at the petty jealousies and grandiose ambitions in a community centre singing group. Choir members are delighted when rapper Marlon (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) spices up their repertoire - but he strikes all the wrong chords with choir-master Ted (Danny Morgan), particularly when fiery-locked Nell (Eri Jackson) gets hands-on instruction from the charismatic stranger.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 4th March 2013

Last two comedy shorts of the series. There's a slightly patchy one - Nell, Ted And Marlon - about a member of So Solid Crew helping out with a community choir, but the real treat here is Alex Lowe and Fraser Steele's Barry, featuring Lowe's octogenarian character Barry from Watford. In his 80s and determined to live life to the full now his wife has left him for a local entrepreneur, he checks things off his bucket list with the help of his grandson. Joyous and such skilful character work. Full series please.

John Robinson, The Guardian, 4th March 2013

The Common Ground comedy series, for which all episodes are set in the same stretch of south London, draws to a close with two more short films. In the main it's been a success with the majority of the stories working well. Tonight's double bill opens with the amusing Nell, Ted and Marlon in which Marlon (Daniel Lawrence Taylor), who claims to be a former member of garage and hip-hop group So Solid Crew, arrives to give guest lessons at a local singing class and becomes infatuated with Nell (Eri Jackson) and her oddly protective brother Ted (Danny Morgan). The wry Barry stars Alex Lowe as an old man who decides to live out a long forgotten bucket list when his wife dumps him - leaving his daughter (Linda Robson) a little perplexed.

Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 1st March 2013

This hit-and-miss series of comedy shorts continues tonight with a promising offering starring and co-written by former Fast Show star Simon Day. He plays a cheery personal trainer whose clients include a Hollywood-bound actor and a young boy whose mother he has taken a fancy to. Look out also for The Royle Family's Liz Smith in a cantankerous supporting role.

Pete Naughton, The Telegraph, 22nd February 2013

Two more shorts for what is effectively a showcase for comic talent old and new, playing interconnected characters all living in Clapham. Johnny Vegas co-writes and stars in the first as Rupert, bereaved proprietor of the Kinky Ink tattoo parlour, whose dad has left him in hock to effete local villain Paul Kaye. It doesn't rise above the sadness of its predicament, however. More successful is Fergus & Crispin, played by Toms Sourton and Palmer, a pair of plummily clueless entrepreneurs. Victorian bingo, anyone?

David Stubbs, The Guardian, 18th February 2013

Comedian Johnny Vegas co-writes and stars with Tony Pitts in the curious tale of Rupert, the highlight of tonight's Sky Atlantic comedy short double bill. Rupert is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders after inheriting Kinky Ink, a tattoo parlour with a rum bunch of regulars who really give him the needle.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 18th February 2013

The hit-and-miss nature of this series of short films is epitomised by tonight's double bill. First up is Johnny Vegas and Tony Pitts's tale of the begrudging Rupert (Vegas), who takes over his late father's tattoo business. He has to contend with the feelings of his dad's girlfriend, tattooist Fiona (Josie Lawrence), and a visit from a debt-collector, the cross-dressing Spinks (Paul Kaye). It's grimly amusing. Less successful is Tom Palmer and Tom Stourton's Fergus and Crispin, which follows two hapless posh-boy entrepreneurs as they try to come up with ideas to make money.

Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 15th February 2013

Last night's viewing: Common Ground, Sky Atlantic

The good news? You've just got a commission for a one-off comedy drama from Sky Atlantic. The bad news? You've got less than 12 minutes of airtime from soup to nuts. Taken together, Common Ground, a series of short films all set in the same stretch of south London, might eventually amount to more than the sum of its parts.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 14th February 2013

Common Ground preview

"It's quite a unique format - there's not really anything else like this" says director David Lambert.

Scout London, 5th February 2013