Never Better. Image shows from L to R: Keith Merchant (Stephen Mangan), Anita Merchant (Kate Ashfield). Copyright: World Productions
Never Better

Never Better

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two
  • 2008
  • 6 episodes (1 series)

A dark comedy from the writer of Party Animals about a recovering alcoholic and his troubles with society. Stars Stephen Mangan, Kate Ashfield, Christopher Fairbank, Tom Goodman-Hill, Michele Austin and more.

Episode menu

Series 1, Episode 1 - Bully

Keith has an angry encounter with a parent in a 4x4 when he drops his son Tom off at school. As Keith rages at the other driver from his humiliatingly clapped-out car, Tom tries - in vain - to tell him that the boy in the vehicle is the class bully. Hours later, and still fuming about the encounter, Keith infuriates Anita by buying a 4x4 from fellow AA member Shaun, whose job could depend on the sale.

Preview clips

Further details

Keith's attendance at the AA meetings creates tension and chaos as he misreads a situation. Trying to win back the group he shares a difficult experience from his past, but his pitiful tale is insulting compared to fellow member Shaun telling of his abused past.

While Keith is dropping his son, Tom, off at school, he is aggravated by a 4x4 driver and explodes into a fit of road rage. While in this rage, he doesn't hear Tom trying to explain he is scared of his classmate, Milo, who is sitting in the 4x4. With his inadequate car and horn, Keith can only see red.

Determined to regain his masculinity, Keith buys a 4x4 from Shaun, but Keith's wife, Anita, is less than impressed and demands he returns it. Shaun reluctantly takes the car back, but Keith gives him some bad advice, with devastating consequences for Shaun.

Later, Kyle, Tom's overweight friend, is being bullied and Kyle's dad thinks Tom is the culprit. After encouraging Tom to stand up for himself, Keith ends up with a cut on his face, giving Kyle's father the wrong impression.

Tensions escalate on a family outing when Kyle's dad sees Keith and Tom blowing out their cheeks and thinks they are trying to be funny.

Broadcast details

Thursday 10th January 2008
30 minutes

Cast & crew

Stephen Mangan Keith Merchant
Kate Ashfield Anita Merchant
Christopher Fairbank Doug
Tom Goodman-Hill Richard
Michele Austin (as Michelle Austin) Linda
Mya O'Connor Poppy Merchant
Charlie George Tom Merchant
Guest cast
Susan Earl Marianne
Neil Fitzmaurice Shaun
Billy Hood Milo
Taylor Lowe Kyle
Gerry McCann Kyle's Dad
Writing team
Fintan Ryan Writer
Production team
Martin Dennis Director
Helen Gregory Producer
Simon Wilson Executive Producer
Letitia Knight Line Producer
Marco Van Welzen Editor
Patrick Bill Production Designer
Di Carling Casting Director
Caroline Pitcher Costume Designer
Andy Hollis Director of Photography
Nichola Bellamy Make-up Designer
Willie Dowling Composer
Adam Byfield 1st Assistant Director


Episode 1

A clip from the first episode.

Featuring: Christopher Fairbank (Doug), Stephen Mangan (Keith Merchant) & Neil Fitzmaurice (Shaun).

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