In the end, though, this was a comedy that was mainly stuck in neutral. It would really need to shift up a gear or three to make me want to watch a second series.Gerard O'Donovan, The Telegraph, 23rd May 2016
I Want My Wife Back is a truly unfortunate title, in that it not only reveals a tin ear for titling of programmes but will let snarky reviewers change the W to an L. And, yes, I wouldn't mind that half-hour back.
Everyone, I imagine, likes Ben Miller (the non-smug Alexander Armstrong) but not even he, nor Caroline Catz, could quite save this derivative sitcom, not while the likes of Camping and Fresh Meat exist. A love-rat boss? A surprise party gone wrong... surprised? A pleasant middle-class English chap caught out lying by an insistent pedant, his lies getting more outre and unmanageable by the minute? Well, I laughed until I stopped, which was frightfully quickly.Euan Ferguson, The Observer, 24th April 2016
Unfortunately for the channel, I Want My Wife Back is one of the worst sitcoms I've seen in a very long time and I wouldn't be surprised if it ended its run in a less prominent timeslot. The series follows the exploits of Murray (Ben Miller) a banker whose promotion at work means that he's never at home to be by the side of his wife Bex (Caroline Catz). I then didn't blame her one iota when she decided to leave him on her fortieth birthday after he'd blown off yet another date in favour of work. However this is a sitcom in which Murray is meant to be the sympathetic romantic and so writers and creators Mark Bussell and Justin Sbrensi try their best to make us root for him as he runs round trying to find out if Bex has left him. I Want My Wife Back feels like it was based on a singular idea about what would happen if a man discovered his significant other was leaving him on the day he was planning a surprise birthday for her. But basing a series around one single event isn't a good idea and especially in the case of this sitcom where the central gag runs out of steam pretty quickly. As the majority of the focus is on Murray and Bex, the rest of the characters are simply thinly-drawn stereotypes who don't feel realistic at all. A case in point is Emma (Susannah Fielding), a co-worker of Murray who is clearly in love with him even though she could do a lot better. Similarly the main gag involving Murray's boss Curtis (Stewart Wright) is that he's having an affair and often gets our hero to lie for him so he can continue his philandering ways. Every joke in I Want My Wife Back failed to hit the spot including the episode's big set piece in which Murray has his ear bitten off while looking for Bex at the hospital in which she works. The conclusion of the first episode, in which Murray and Bex are whisked off to spend a holiday in Turkey together, was as an unfunny as what had gone before and after spending half an hour with these characters I had no desire to continue. I do feel it's a shame that the comedies that seem to get the most amount promotion tend to be disappointingly unfunny whilst the real gems such as Detectorists and Fresh Meat get hidden away. I do think that we can do comedy well in this country when given the chance but I Want My Wife Back was cringe-inducing from beginning to end and featured both a miscast leading man and a complete lack of anything even resembling a joke.Matt, The Custard TV, 23rd April 2016
This new sitcom often feels old-fashioned, but in a warm and pleasant way. You won't be knocked off your feet with hysterical laughter but we know not to expect anything wild on BBC1 at such a sensible hour. Ben Miller plays Murray, a middle-aged man who's frantically busy with his career. His wife, Bex, is dismayed by her workaholic husband. She doesn't sit back to enjoy the fruits of his labour, spending it all on Laboutins and fancy lunches. Instead, she sits alone at dinner tables and birthday celebrations, waiting for a husband who never appears as he's always delayed at work.
So Bex decides to leave him. But she does so on the day Murray finally realises his neglect and decides to throw her a surprise birthday party as a feeble gesture of atonement. Murray is already stressed by work, and is now frazzled further by clandestine party arrangements and by having to then pretend to the houseful of guests that his wife hasn't dumped him. Can he win her back by changing his ways? More importantly, is there enough charm and wit here to sustain six episodes?Julie McDowall, The National (Scotland), 18th April 2016
New midlife crisis-based farce, full of cliches but nevertheless entertaining thanks to a fine cast including Ben Miller and Caroline Catz. Workaholic Murray (Miller) has neglected his wife Bex (Catz) for too long so she decides to leave him just as he's planning her surprise 40th. His secretary is, of course, hopelessly in love with him and he's oblivious. The couple, meanwhile, are forced to keep up appearances as their marriage crumbles, which makes for an interesting opener.Hannah Verdier, The Guardian, 18th April 2016
File under "potentially good" rather than "must-see".Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 18th April 2016
"Though I might like to think that my comedy heart is made of coal and coated in tar, I am a sucker for silliness."Alison Graham, Radio Times, 18th April 2016