Lab Rats. Dr Alex Beenyman (Chris Addison). Copyright: BBC.

Lab Rats

BBC Two sitcom about rubbish scientists. 6 episodes (1 series) in 2008. Stars Chris Addison, Geoffrey McGivern, Jo Enright, Dan Tetsell and others.

Press Clippings

A well-meaning sitcom, designed as a throwback to the 1980s - when studio-based comedies were often full of caricatures, catchphrases and total silliness. The idea of a bunch of university scientists getting into crazy scrapes every week was a neat platform for surreal, broad comedy, but Lab Rats seemed two decades out of date from the start. Intentionally, or not. It's not that this brand of comedy has totally vanished (see Father Ted in the '90s, or The IT Crowd right now), but it needs to be far cleverer than this. Still, writer-star Chris Addison made a good impression.

Dan Owen, Dan's Media Digest, 12th January 2009

Five questions for... Jo Enright

A short interview with the Lab Rats star

David Baldwin, Metro, 2nd September 2008

For all the abuse Ricky Gervais receives, his astute awareness of the inner workings of the BBC was always fascinating to watch in Extras, especially when he launched his fake BBC sitcom When The Whistle Blows with its cheesy lines, studio laughter, simplistic acting and staged sets.

Surely the BBC doesn't make dated shows like that any more? Sadly, it does, as anyone who has been following Lab Rats will be aware. Last night marked the final episode of the Chris Addison comedy about university professors at work in the laboratory. The quality of actors involved - such as Addison, who dazzled in The Thick Of It - isn't in dispute but the BBC's desire to stick a laughter track over the weak jokes only highlighted the unfunny incidents.

Elsewhere, Helen Moon, a Patricia Routledge lookalike, spent the episode opening doors to pour scorn on the others before disappearing. Then there was the experienced Selina Cadell, who hammed it up as the Dutch dean of the university, who, it transpired this week, happened to own a slutty pigeon. Actually, that was amusing. But that was it. A shame - especially when it's obvious Addison's capable of so much more.

Noam Friedlander, Metro, 14th August 2008

I was really looking forward to this series because I think we need more family-friendly laugh-tracked silly comedy on our screens. Sadly it's not quite there yet, with some inspired gags and genuinely funny jokes mixed with some rather iffy character development and scenes which cross the line from 'silly' to 'stupid'. If it reminds me of anything it's Hippies - another much-hyped series from some big names which was enjoyable and amusing, but also chaotic and sometimes self-indulgent.

Sadly too it looks like Lab Rats is following in the footsteps of Hippies by performing quite poorly in the ratings and enduring some stinking reviews. It's perhaps to be expected - watching Robin Ince in a silly wig running around shouting for an entire episode is something that's always going to be an acquired taste. But I'm sticking with it, and it'd be a shame if it didn't get a second series after this week's episode, if not the funniest half hour of television this year, was almost certainly the cleverest.

Steve Williams, Off The Telly, 10th August 2008

Veering between sitcom clichés (comedy accents, corny gags) and something more surreal, this series still feels like it's searching for an identity. It's a pity because Chris Addison and Carl Cooper's scripts show potential.

Metro, 7th August 2008

A Lab Manager on Lab Rats

The Guardian asks a real lab manager what she thinks about Lab Rats. She seems to somewhat miss the point that the show is supposed to be a comedy, not an accurate depiction of lab life.

Benita Middleton, The Guardian, 28th July 2008

Dispensing with character and plot must be tempting for writers trying to create a zany sitcom. Anything can happen when you're not tied to a story, and if your protagonists aren't believable people, you can make them say anything that comes to mind.

Lab Rats hops gaily from one idea to the next and a lot of the broad visual jokes are funny. Co-writer Chris Addison does well in the Father Ted role of the only person who isn't eccentric to the point of mental illness ("It's like being in a room full of my Gran!")

But the free-form silliness stops comic momentum building. If a gag fails, the audience have nothing else to hang onto - the loosely defined supporting characters can't even be relied on to do their funny thing, because you're not sure what that thing is.

Comedy like this is almost impossible to get right. Lab Rats valiantly fails.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 24th July 2008

There are nicely worked scenes in Chris Addison's sciencey sitcom this week as an officious inspector comes to visit the lab - another great turn by Kim Wall (last seen in Five's sitcom Angelo's). As luck would have it, he calls on the day Cara has accidentally defrosted the wealthy benefactor who was being kept cryogenically frozen in the lab, despite not being dead. It's more complicated than that but the details hardly matter; it's all about well-observed comedy moments, for instance when Alex (Addison) distracts the inspector by nudging the pictures on the wall crooked, knowing his adversary will feel compelled to put them right. I'm not convinced the characters or tone have quite gelled yet, but there are sparkles of something good.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 17th July 2008

What a brilliant sitcom to get young children interested in the wacky world of science.

Sadly, the show - starring Selina Cadell - ended up being scheduled at 9.30pm, way past the bedtime of anyone who'd find anything to laugh about.

I didn't want to write this off after its debut last week. I hoped the stupid jokes, stupid science and even stupider scientists might have been a one-off, but this week it turns out it was just getting into its stride and was preparing to get even stupider.

Tonight we're subjected to a stream of verbal diarrhoea from guest star Robin Ince, who's been defrosted out of his cryogenic freezing unit. The joke is he's not even dead! But this show is. Time to pull the plug and walk away. Or else shunt it over to CBeebies.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 17th July 2008

Even with the best will in the world, this is still a painfully unfunny episode. There is nothing wrong with the characters or with the acting - the weak link is the script, which starts off by relying (deliberately) on daft jokes and farcical plots. And although there is no reason why daft jokes shouldn't be funny, they cannot be clumsy and laboured as well as daft. One of the central jokes of tonight's episode is a former professor - taken out of a deep freeze and brought back to life - who proceeds to drive everyone round the bend. Alas, he is so tiresome that he will drive viewers round the bend as well.

David Chater, The Times, 17th July 2008