Sunshine. Image shows from L to R: Bing Crosby (Steve Coogan), George Crosby (Bernard Hill). Copyright: Jellylegs / BBC.

Sunshine

BBC One comedy drama. 3 episodes (1 series) in 2008. Stars Steve Coogan, Bernard Hill, Lisa Millett, Dominic Senior, Phil Mealey, Craig Cash, Daniel Ryan and others.

Press Clippings

Sunshine was a three-part BBC series from the pen of Craig Cash and Phil Mealey, starring Steve Coogan. Never quite sure what it wanted to be, the show was diverting enough, but had a tendency at times to be overly mawkish and sickeningly sweet.

Off The Telly, 2nd January 2009

This lovely little drama from Craig Cash and Phil Mealey comes to an end as Bing (a rather excellent Steve Coogan - which is a relief after last week's criticisms of his live show) attempts to beat his gambling addiction once and for all and win back his wife. He has a lot of hurdles to overcome, and then there are his dad's problems waiting to come to light - will they send Bing spiralling back into the grip of addiction? There'll be tears and laughter before bedtime, mark my words...

Mark Wright, The Stage, 21st October 2008

From comedy to pathos to sentimentality - this has been on a slippery slope from the start and tonight we tumble into a steaming bowl of sunshine-yellow emotional custard. You'd expect sweetness like this from a Hollywood movie with a Bette Midler soundtrack. To find it pouring from three generations of bluff northern males certainly bucks the trend.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 21st October 2008

In the final episode, the inveterate gambler (Steve Coogan) seeks help for his addiction and tries to find a job. Many viewers may find it cloying and sentimental, and no doubt parts of it are. This addict, after all, remains charming despite his destructive behaviour and even the worst of the misery is ameliorated by laughter. But look at it another way. Thousands of lives are destroyed by addictions of one sort or another, and television plays an important role in passing on information. Sunshine uses jokes and warmth to suggest that addiction doesn't have to be a terminal illness. If it sugars the pill, is that so terrible?

David Chater, The Times, 21st October 2008

We reach the conclusion of the tear-jerking comedy drama about a likeable layabout's gambling habit and its effects on his family. What should have been a top-class affair, co-written by The Royle Family's Craig Cash, hasn't quite turned out that way. While Coogan's retired roadie Tommy was a brilliantly observed has-been in the overlooked Saxondale, bin man Bing has been left to drown in a vat of family bonding.

Patricia Wynn Davies, The Telegraph, 21st October 2008

Usually dramas about addiction are a misery to watch, but this one manages to remain upbeat in spite of its subject matter. Having already been thrown out of the house by his long-suffering wife, Steve Coogan's inveterate gambler still can't kick the habit. Yet he remains as funny and engaging as ever, refusing to face up to his problem and believing, like all gamblers, that he can win his way out of trouble with a streak of good fortune. "My wife thinks I can't turn over a new leaf, and I'm going to show her that I can. Do you want me to put a couple of quid on it for you?" Sunshine doesn't avoid the nasty stuff, but it is balanced by an abundance of warmth, good humour and humanity.

David Chater, The Times, 14th October 2008

If some people see life as a comedy, while others insist it is a tragedy, then the writing team of Craig Cash and Phil Mealey must fall into the first camp. They just can't help themselves from seeing the funny side of the most dire situations. They would probably get the giggles at a funeral.

And while that's better than going through life being a total misery, that could explain why this series about the very unfunny problem of gambling addiction is looking a bit unsteady on its pins as it lurches drunkenly from the sweet to the sour.

Having said that, if you don't get a little seasick from the shifting tone there's plenty to enjoy here - especially in the cockle-warming friendship between little Joe and his grandad George. And also, of course, in Steve Coogan's central performance as eternal loser Bing Crosby.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 14th October 2008

In its effort to be a warm, feel-good story, there are times when Sunshine threatens to drown us in treacle. By the 17th time cute little Joe has his hair tousled by his grandad (Bernard Hill) in another golden scene, you may find you're longing for a bit of an edge to things. In one scene we even hear the Farm's Altogether Now over the two of them gardening, just to ram home what a heart-warmingly marvellous pair they are. But grit your teeth and get through it, because for all its soppiness, Sunshine pays dividends, in the tragicomic tale of Joe's dad Bing (Steve Coogan) and his all-consuming gambling habit. Coogan is excellent again, and in the moving later scenes he reveals a talent for pathos you might not expect.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 14th October 2008

The Stage Review

That Sunshine succeeds so effectively as both comedy and drama is down to a witty and original script by Craig Cash and Phil Mealey combined with a very impressive performance from Coogan, who manages to strike just the right note between amiable and infuriating, amusing and appalling.

Indeed, Sunshine is so well done that it is almost too painful to watch, and it's going to require something of an act of will from me to return for a further helping of Bob's wilful self-destruction. The jokes and great lines certainly come thick and fast, but the underlying mood is one of despair with just a hint of impending doom.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 13th October 2008

Sunshine is a very frustrating drama to watch. There are moments when it threatens to be consumed by a sense of overarching pathos and a need to be gritty and northern yet always lovable. But within the on-going story of bad lad with a heart (and a huge gambling problem) Bing and his attempts to do right by his young family, there is a lot to like. Steve Coogan as Bing is the draw, displaying a talent for underplayed drama that is usually lost beneath his penchant for constant improvising. Here, however, he is magic. And when he's acting alongside an old pro like Bernard Hill as Bing's dad, you appreciate just how good he is.

Mark Wright, The Stage, 13th October 2008