Sugartown. Image shows from L to R: Unknown, Margery (Sue Johnston), Jason Burr (Shaun Dooley). Copyright: Shed Productions.

Sugartown

BBC One comedy drama set in a seaside town. 3 episodes (1 series) in 2011. Stars Shaun Dooley, Tom Ellis, Sue Johnston, Miranda Raison and others.

Press Clippings

The final episode of this by-the-numbers comedy-drama set in a village in the north of England which fears outsiders and prides itself on the quality of its rock. As in Blackpool rock. Jason and Emily put the wedding back on and Max continues his plans for the town's redevelopment. It's not groundbreaking, but Sue Johnston is as reliable as ever, and at least it doesn't have a laughter track.

The Telegraph, 5th August 2011

It's surprising that Sugartown is on so late. Everything about it suggests a family comedy drama. There's no swearing, the jokes are inoffensive, and, unlike many comedies these days, it doesn't rely on embarrassment to get laughs (or grimaces). Admittedly it isn't often very funny, but it's warm and entertaining enough. Tonight, the locals rally round to save the desolate seaside resort's rock factory by launching a new range of sweets, while Carmen (Georgia King) prepares for the dance school's opening night.

Catherine Gee, The Telegraph, 29th July 2011

Sugartown TV review

The plotting, which lurched from contrivance to coincidence and back again, didn't so much ask the audience to suspend their disbelief as abandon all intelligent thought processes.

The Stage, 27th July 2011

Sugartown has a lot of very bad dancing

This is just a wild guess but when actress Sue Johnston looks back on a career that has taken in the glory years of Brookside and The Royle Family, dressing up as a sherbet dab and dancing like a loon to Starship's We Built This City, will not figure among the highlights.
And that was one of the better bits of Sugartown (BBC1).

A lumpy comedy drama set in an ailing seaside town up north, Sugartown has Miranda's Tom Ellis as the bad brother (he's been down south and is thus rich) returning to steal the local seaside rock factory from the good brother (poor, obviously).

In order to stop this happening, good brother's salt-of-the-earth/dippy mates are going to do a lot of very bad dancing. Because, apparently, 'Sugartown used to be the centre of dance'. And there was me, thinking that was St Petersburg.

Keith Watson, Metro, 25th July 2011

I recently wrote to television to ask it, in polite yet vigorous terms, to cease making whimsical comedy-dramas set in idealised northern towns which promulgate the tired view that Britain is populated entirely by loveable eccentrics and pantomime villains. Did it listen? Did it 'eck as like.

Or perhaps Sugartown was already in the can by the time my urgent missive arrived, and that seeing as the BBC don't appear to have much faith in it - shunting it out almost apologetically at the unedifying slot of 10:25pm on a Sunday - this will be the last programme of its type we shall ever see, paving way for a new golden dawn where populist drama isn't a euphemism for "bland, cosy, unambitious nothingness starring a man in a
bobble hat".

One can but hopelessly dream.

Set in a fictional seaside town financially supported by the local rock factory (hence the title), and populated by the likes of Sue Johnston doing her daffy yet dependable older woman act, it is pitched somewhere between Victoria Wood and an Ealing comedy, but without the wit or spark of either.

You know how it goes: unscrupulous entrepreneur threatens to close the factory, forcing the plucky locals to fight back in a variety of unamusing ways. That their principle method of rebellion is the feel-good factor of dance should also come as no surprise to you.

What may startle you slightly, however, is the villain's stewardship of a mini Playboy club, which is of course precisely the sort of establishment you'd find in a nowhere town where nearly every resident is an OAP. Yes, I know it's not a Ken Loach film, but you can only suspend your disbelief so much.

Featuring a mayor who arrives to work on a bicycle wearing full ceremonial attire - presumably as a concession to those who wish to believe that Trumpton was a documentary - and a character seemingly intended to illustrate the lighter side of bipolar disorder, Sugartown succeeds neither as comedy nor drama.

Pastel-coloured in sugary shades of CBBC, it should be studiously avoided if you're lactose intolerant or simply intolerant of vacuous entertainment.

Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 25th July 2011

I recently wrote to television to ask it, in polite yet vigorous terms, to cease making whimsical comedy-dramas set in idealised northern towns which promulgate the tired view that Britain is populated entirely by loveable eccentrics and pantomime villains. Did it listen? Did it 'eck as like.

Or perhaps Sugartown was already in the can by the time my urgent missive arrived, and that seeing as the BBC don't appear to have much faith in it - shunting it out almost apologetically at the unedifying slot of 10:25pm on a Sunday - this will be the last programme of its type we shall ever see, paving way for a new golden dawn where populist drama isn't a euphemism for "bland, cosy, unambitious nothingness starring a man in a bobble hat".

One can but hopelessly dream.

Set in a fictional seaside town financially supported by the local rock factory (hence the title), and populated by the likes of Sue Johnston doing her daffy yet dependable older woman act, it is pitched somewhere between Victoria Wood and an Ealing comedy, but without the wit or spark of either.

You know how it goes: unscrupulous entrepreneur threatens to close the factory, forcing the plucky locals to fight back in a variety of unamusing ways. That their principle method of rebellion is the feel-good factor of dance should also come as no surprise to you.

What may startle you slightly, however, is the villain's stewardship of a mini Playboy club, which is of course precisely the sort of establishment you'd find in a nowhere town where nearly every resident is an OAP. Yes, I know it's not a Ken Loach film, but you can only suspend your disbelief so much.

Featuring a mayor who arrives to work on a bicycle wearing full ceremonial attire - presumably as a concession to those who wish to believe that Trumpton was a documentary - and a character seemingly intended to illustrate the lighter side of bipolar disorder, Sugartown succeeds neither as comedy nor drama.

Pastel-coloured in sugary shades of CBBC, it should be studiously avoided if you're lactose intolerant or simply intolerant of vacuous entertainment.

Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 25th July 2011

Sugartown review

Even before I'd noticed Sue Johnston's name on the cast list, I thought Sugartown sounded like it was cut from the same cloth as Jam & Jerusalem. Set in a fading UK seaside resort (it's filmed in Filey, North Yorkshire, in case you were wondering), it boasts an "eccentric gang of loveable locals" played by an impressive line-up of familiar faces, a gently amusing script and occasional serious moments.

Jane Murphy, Orange TV, 25th July 2011

I cannot for the life of me work out why BBC1 are transmitting a children's programme at 10.25pm on a Sunday, though it's hard to see Sugartown as anything else, so guileless is its plotting and so jauntily empty of threat are its characterisations. It's the kind of big ensemble drama where comic pizzicato is in heavy demand on the soundtrack and the challenges of life are framed as a kind of gang-show, with everyone pulling together to triumph over adversity. It isn't a terrible children's programme, incidentally, if that's what you want to watch. It's set in a run-down Yorkshire seaside town named in honour of its biggest local employer, a rock and confectionery factory that has seen better days. One brother (the good boy) struggles to keep the factory going; another (the sexy bad one) plans to sell it off to finance a casino. There's also a rivalry over a pretty girl, a long-lost orphan, and an attempt to relaunch a dance academy, which will allow for the occasional disco-backed chorus-line number. If you think that ageing hippies say things like "Let me stir-fry something into your think-wok, Ken", then you may find it an acute and heartwarming study of community solidarity under pressure. If you're not convinced by that line you might want to steer clear, because there are quite a lot of others like it, as well as boilerplate stuff such as "Everything's just a game to you isn't it? Who cares whether you break a heart or two along the way?" Cocoa for the mind, I think.

Tom Sutcliffe, The Independent, 25th July 2011

Sugartown was punishingly clich├ęd

Watching Sugartown was similar to the feeling you get after eating an entire bag of marshmallows - a bloated, sickly sweet sitcom that slapsticked you into submission.

Christopher Hooton, Metro, 25th July 2011

If you were being polite you'd call Sugartown inoffensive. More honestly, it's lame, tired, predictable, unadventurous, dated and utterly uninteresting.

"Marriage, that's like for the rest of your life, or till death do you part, whichever comes first," says a character early on. And I'm afraid I failed to get much further. No, actually I didn't fail. Sugartown did. Miserably.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 25th July 2011