The Inn Mates. Brian (Neil Morrissey). Copyright: BBC.

The Inn Mates

Press Clippings

Review of Inn Mates

Yet more licence fee money down the drain as the BBC launches the pilot of another "yoof" comedy. Neil Morrissey, hang your head in shame.

Arlene Kelly, Suite 101, 17th August 2010

As all right thinking people agree, Cheers is the greatest ensemble TV sitcom of all time. There have been several attempts to relocate its success in a British pub, the latest of which is Inn Mates, a pilot by John Warburton who is the first writer to have gone through the BBC's College of Comedy and got a script on screen.

Whilst it falls way short of its illustrious American predecessor, Inn Mates is amiable and entertaining fun set in a red-brick modern monstrosity optimistically called The Friendship Inn.

It revolves around the disparate groups of characters that frequent or serve in it. These include two twentysomething couples with contrasting lifestyles, their sexually abandoned alcoholic single friend, the ruthless landlady and her wheelchair-using DJ, two dozy and doting community support police officers, and a gay man whose donated sperm has come back to haunt him in the form of a teenage biological son desperate to form a bond.

The various strands don't really hang together, and Inn Mates feels slightly like several sitcoms sharing the same half hour. Of these the father/son scenario is by far the strongest, and could even go it alone as a spin-off.

It offers pathos, charm, wit, conflict and originality. Plus on-screen chemistry between Neil Morrissey, playing against type, and Joe Tracini, who is so good that I can almost forgive him for Coming Of Age.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 16th August 2010

Watching the antics of Maisie and Pete (sexy couple in relationship set-to), Sharon and John (not-so-sexy couple who worry they're getting boring) and Blue (party animal who tends to wake up in abandoned supermarket trollies) was a bit like watching an episode of Hollyoaks but with added funnies.

More interesting were those on the periphery of this pilot: the tubby pair of community support officers bonded by naivety and fantasies; and Josh, played by Joe Pasquale's round-faced son, Joe Tracini, trying to earn the love of sperm donor dad Neil Morrissey, an intriguing proposition if ever I saw one.

This one will need time to grow - unlike Grandma's House, which has the makings of a sure-fire hit.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 10th August 2010

The definition of insanity, according to someone-or-other, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. The equivalent in a television review is complaining that a new BBC3 sitcom is puerile piffle - and yet, how can we avoid it?

There are so many of them and (with a few honourable exceptions, each a delightful surprise as they buck the trend) they are so bad. No-one ever admits to liking them, whether in the right age bracket they are supposedly targeted at or not, yet still they come, on and on, a grim onslaught of unfunny scenarios and jokes that most ten-year-old boys would reject as childish.

The latest is Inn Mates and what's most disappointing about this pilot effort isn't the lameness of its setting - a pub called The Friendship Inn, where various 20-somethings drink, get off with each other and trade unwitty banter - or script, but the "boast" that its writer, John Warburton, is the first person to have gone through the BBC's College of Comedy and get their script on screen. That was a scheme set up for aspiring sitcom writers which chose six people to have their scripts mentored and workshopped for a year before deciding if any would become a show.

The mind boggles at the ones which were rejected and at the idea that Inn Mates - whose jokes include someone getting Stanley Matthews the footballer and Bernard Matthews the turkey farmer mixed up - can have gone through so much yet still resemble a sub-par episode of Two Pints Of Lager..., BBC3's apparent idea of the ne plus ultra of comic achievement.

As well as its young cast, Neil Morrissey pops up as the sperm donor father of one character - his catchphrase is "I'm not your dad!" - who looks utterly depressed by it all. Given that he appeared in five series of Men Behaving Badly, this is a terrible indictment.

It is, of course, unfair to attack a young writer's first script, to judge a potential series by its pilot and to expect BBC3's young target audience to enjoy the likes of Rev or Roger And Val Have Just Got In. But comedy's a tough business and it's also unfair to keep churning out these unfunny booze-and-shagging sitcoms. For the love of God, please stop.

Andrea Mullaney, The Scotsman, 10th August 2010

Here is a sitcom that, on first viewing, fits all the preconceptions about debuts buried in the dog days of summer. The opening episode was as embarrassing to watch as it possibly was to act in, although there could be no faulting the cast for effort, and it wasn't their fault that a narrative appeared to have been eschewed in favour of a series of disconnected sketches that relied for laughs on spectacles such as that of a pair of fat police community support officers getting stoned. Drugs, sex and alcohol loomed large throughout, in fact, and while I'm all for at least two of those vices, the whole package was enough to make you weep for The Good Life.

Brian Viner, The Independent, 10th August 2010

Unless you are amused by people getting drunk, shagging around, and getting Stanley Matthews and Bernard Matthews muddled up Inn Mates isn't worth pursuing. (What is this sudden plague of new sitcoms by the way? I thought they were supposed to be over.) This is much more basic fare than Grandma's House, and funnier if you are actually drunk, probably. Never trust a comedy with a pun in its title, that's the rule.

OK, I confess I did laugh when the two square community police officers dipped their disco biscuits into their tea (quite fiddly, given their size). And then again the next morning when they're at work but still wazzed off their baps on E, a car alarm goes off and they're straight back up there, shaking that ass in the street. Very funny, but that was pretty much it, for laughs.

Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 10th August 2010

Inn Mates Review: Criminal

BBC Three is quickly becoming the most solid argument against the TV license fee, and Inn Mates only serves to strengthen that argument further. Inn Mates is, impossibly, even worse than another BBC3 product, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps.

Ewan Roberts, On The Box, 9th August 2010

A new pub-based BBC3 sitcom, which means a drink simile. The comedy equivalent of a shot made from the contents of fluorescent bottles of sugary meths masquerading as booze, which curdles, solidifies and turns your brain inside-out. It mixes Friends with Two Pints and Spaced and Ideal and ends up with a coagulated mess on the pavement outside. A pleasantly zingy aftertaste is provided by Joe Pasquale's son playing a stalky loon, but even that'll just make you feel worse come morning.

TV Bite, 9th August 2010

If you think BBC3's new comedy about the dysfunctional regulars of a run down pub sounds a little familiar it's because it is and bears more than a passing resemblance to Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps. But the big difference is, this actually has some laughs in it, something that's even more surprising when you consider Neil Morrissey's in the cast.

Sky, 9th August 2010

Let's hope this pilot isn't the new Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps because it veers dangerously towards that comedy abyss. It's about the semi-likeable misfits who are the regulars at the Friendship Inn. There's manageress Elf (Aisling Bea) with her tacky theme nights, the promiscuous Blue (Rachel Rae), and Sharon (Poppy Jhakra), who's "23 going on 53". The characters have potential but the script is sadly unimaginative.

Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 9th August 2010