Starlings. Copyright: Baby Cow Productions


  • TV comedy drama
  • Sky One
  • 2012 - 2013
  • 16 episodes (2 series)

Sky1 comedy drama about a dysfunctional family living in Derbyshire. Written by Matt King and Steve Edge. Stars Brendan Coyle, Lesley Sharp, Steve Edge, Matt King, Alan Williams and more.

Press clippings Page 2

An "everyone goes on holiday" episode, which, like a lot of holidays, is meant to freshen people up but mostly makes their flaws more stark. Terry and Jan (Brendan Coyle and Lesley Sharp) have a break at home alone for their anniversary - an excuse for soppy nostalgia if they didn't already go in for that every week.

Reuben and Bell are at a spa to try to overcome their weirdly trivial relationship problem, despite Bel's annoying intransigence. Everyone else goes "wild camping" with Fergie, disastrously. That's by far the most entertaining strand but, as ever, even the cheesy bits are lifted by the superb cast. As Reuben, Ukweli Roach is particularly skilled at drawing laughs and pathos from a limited role.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 17th June 2012

This episode ends with a crane-mounted camera wistfully panning up and away from the action into the sky, while Days by the Kinks plays: the sort of cheesy flourish almost no programme can get away with. But Starlings does. I'd like to climb inside and live there.

Bell (the luminous Rebecca Knight) tries going back to work but misses baby Zak too much, while Gravy gets a girlfriend and Mum tries to write a short story but keeps getting interrupted. All that is deftly observed and offset with the right amount of wackiness: Grandad may have been bitten by a spider whose venom is hallucinogenic; Loz tries to join a commune because they only want £40 a week rent. All of it is cosy and convincing.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 27th May 2012

Shows like this have the tricky task not just of being good, but of befriending us. We must think of the Starling family as friends we'd like to spend Sunday night with.

Episode two of Matt King and Steve Edge's humble saga cements that feeling, laying on familiar comedy-drama trappings - a tasteful folk-pop soundtrack, some slightly hammered-home plots, the odd scene where people just sit about being nice to each other - but colouring them with sharp comic set pieces and foibles that give the characters depth. Everyone here is a bit lost in life, but has hope in the form of their loved ones' support - a simple truth that warms the heart.

Jack Seale, Radio Times, 20th May 2012

Centred around four generations of one family co-habiting in one cramped house, this new series is pitched as a touching 'dramedy' where the clan's dysfunction is mild at most. The second episode plods on with dad Terry (Brendan 'Mr Bates' Coyle) inducting his daughter into the struggling family business, while his other daughter Bell is bugging the father of her newborn to get a job. Elsewhere, mum Jan (Leslie Sharp) is clearing out the shed. Think that sounds dull? Well, that's because it is. There's a wealth of homegrown talent here - including Matt 'Super Hans' King - who co-wrote the series and plays insecure wannabe artist Uncle Loz, but the dialogue is frequently weak, the quirky humour forced and the relationships appear unintentionally awkward.

Kim Taylor Bennett, Time Out, 20th May 2012

The sweet nature of Starlings is proving infectious thanks to an endearingly observant script by writers Matt King and Steve Edge. Tomboy Charlie (Finn Atkins) joins dad Terry (Brendan Coyle) in the family business, Reuben (Ukweli Roach) begins a new job in spite of interference by Fergie (Edge), and Uncle Lodz (King) gets a shock at his first art show.

Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 18th May 2012

Review: Starlings

For a while now, Sky has been going after female viewers - for whom football and blockbuster movies are perhaps less of a reason to subscribe. The strategy seems to be to develop warm, unchallenging, dramatic comedies about family life that are set far away from the British capital.

Rachel Cooke, The New Statesman, 16th May 2012

Starlings is a slow-moving but sweet-natured comedy-drama series about four generations living beneath the same modestly sized roof in Matlock, Derbyshire. Lesley Sharp and Brendan Coyle are the show's solidly dependable stars.

The series commences with the home birth of baby Zac, who not only gets the series off to a suitably dramatic start but provides the writers with a nifty plot device whereby granddad introduces him - and us - to the rest of the family in turn.

The characters are engaging, the relationships between them interesting and the script consistently amusing. Mercifully, eccentricity is kept to a minimum and the plot lines have a reasonably firm hold on the recognisably real.
Apart from Zac's arrival not a lot happens, and what does happen takes its time about it. However, an hour in the company of the Starlings passes pleasantly enough, and there are enough hints at darker plot developments ahead to keep my interest for the foreseeable future.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 15th May 2012

Starlings, Matt King and Steve Edge's new series for Sky1, is what you might call acoustic guitar comedy. You don't get a laugh-track, you get Bon Iver singing something plangent over a low-key (and slightly over-crowded) family drama. It is very sweet, which is both praise and blame, since the absence of sharp edge may not be to everyone's taste. "Need more warm," says one character as he shuffles off to top up his partner's birthing pool. No. Need more hot and cold.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 14th May 2012

The latest result of Sky's renewed commitment to original content - not that they ever had much of a record to renew - Starlings is a determinedly gentle and cloying comedy drama written by and starring Steve Edge (Phoenix Nights) and Matt King (Super Hans from Peep Show)

Centred around a close-knit extended family cooped up under the same roof in rural Derbyshire, it arrives with the writer's avowed intent of being unencumbered by bleakness or cynicism. That's a theoretically legitimate ambition, but the problem with Starlings is that, in its eagerness to warm the cockles, it achieves a dawdling consistency of utter blandness. It feels like an interminable home insurance ad, replete with winsome acoustic guitar backing. Still, nice scenery.

The Scotsman, 14th May 2012

Brendan Coyle on Starlings, Man Utd and Rachel Khoo

Downton Abbey's Mr. Bates talks about his new show on Sky1, life as an actor - and his favourite television.

Claire Webb, Radio Times, 13th May 2012

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