The Cafe (Sky1) is back, after a first series that created rather more hope than expectation. It's a gentle, low-key sitcom that projects its intention to go easy on you from the opening titles, as elderly joggers creep along the Weston-super-Mare seafront led by a man with a Zimmer frame. The cafe is populated by the same crowd of cheerful sad-sacks, and things are still going just as badly for everyone without anyone seeming to mind too much. It's a deeply agreeable half-hour, but the whole thing remains too even-tempered for its own good. The dialogue is clever - often more admirable than funny - and the performances are top-notch, but the characters seem to share the writers' reluctance to stir up any real trouble. I'm not suggesting comedy can only spring from conflict, but it's hard to see how you can wrest many gags from such collective mousiness.
I did laugh when Kieran, the seafront's resident living statue, came into the cafe for a coffee dressed as the Incredible Hulk. "And a croissant, I'm hungry," he said, turning to another customer. "You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry."
But this, like many of the best lines, was an incidental aside, a flash of wit that contributed nothing to the plot. Which is just as well, because not much was happening anyway. Cyril was going to ask Sarah's mum to marry him, but he never got round to it. And Sarah's estranged dad turned up at the end. Actually, he appeared right at the beginning, but it took him the entire show to turn up and say something.
The Cafe is back for a second series, so it must appeal to its target constituency. In the nicest possible way, I'm just going to say it's not my cup of tea.Tim Dowling, The Guardian, 25th July 2013
Second series for the agreeable, whimsical seaside drama written by Michelle Terry and Ralph Little. Sarah (Terry) is still single and wiping tables with a faraway look in her eyes, while her nan tweets Rio Ferdinand. Cyril has taken on a community service helper down at the allotment, and Richard has news that causes Sarah to fixate pensively on the steam rising from the tea urn. It's not new but it is ever so nicely done. And any show containing the never-anything-less-than-flawless David Troughton (as Cyril) just wins the television.Julia Raeside, The Guardian, 24th July 2013
The gently eccentric seaside comedy returns for another stroll along the prom at Weston-super-Mare, stopping off for rock cakes and merry banter at the social hub that is Carol's café. Morris dancers, living statues and musician Richard's slow-burning pash for reluctant small-town girl Sarah (Ralf Little and Michelle Terry as the reticent lovebirds) are on the saucy postcards, the plot stirred up by the arrival of Robert Glenister (Hustle) and Mackenzie Crook (The Office) as surprising new characters.Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 24th July 2013
Ralf Little and Michelle Terry return for a second series of their self-penned sitcom set in Weston-Super-Mare. Sarah (Terry) is back behind the café counter along with mother Carol (Ellie Haddington) and grandmother Sarah (June Watson). Most of today's customers bring consternation, not least Richard (Little), who has an announcement to make, and new character Phil (Robert Glenister), Carol's estranged husband.
It's all very staged but the script is reasonably amusing, with asides, misunderstandings and repetition to order. References to Twitter and Facebook nestle reasonably comfortably alongside the portrait of a crumbling seaside town, with the aghast Sarah the pivot between the two. Her frustrations will undoubtedly form the backbone of the series, and viewers will want to see her luck change - though how many episodes that will take remains to be seen.Anna Smith, Time Out, 24th July 2013
Its premiere may be called 'Diminishing Returns', but we can assure you that The Cafe is as chucklesome as ever when it returns to Sky1 for its second series this week.
The Ralf Little comedy picks up with Carol's (Ellie Haddington) ex and Sarah's (Michelle Terry) estranged father Phil, played by Hustle star Robert Glenister, stopping by to say 'alroight' when he arrives in Weston-Super-Mare to shoot a tourism brochure. Elsewhere, Richard (Little) and Ava (Carolin Stoltz) make an unexpected announcement and Mary (June Watson) discovers Twitter. Knock together a nice bacon butty for yourself, pull up a pew and enjoy.Daniel Sperling, Digital Spy, 21st July 2013
Last in the comedy series about a seaside cafe in the west country. The future of the cafe is still in the balance, but Sarah and co are determined to throw Carol a fantastic surprise party. John shows up with the champagne, but will he be staying after Richard has a word with him? The risk with such gentle and sweet comedy is that it walks a fine line - in this episode the writers have leapt across it so the whole thing collapses into a soppy, feelgood indulgence. It's a disappointing end to a show that had promised more.Martin Skegg, The Guardian, 19th December 2011
Episode four in the gentle English town by-the-sea comedy and there's excitement at the forthcoming Sing-Along Sound Of Music, billed as one of the biggest events in Weston-super-Mare's social calendar. Carol frantically prepares for a meeting with her accountant; when it goes badly, she wants to drop out of the singalong, though Stan is on hand to try to persuade her otherwise. Meanwhile, Chloe wants to know what happened between Sarah and John. And will he be showing up on Sound Of Music night?Martin Skegg, The Guardian, 6th December 2011