The Spa. Alison (Rebecca Front). Copyright: Tiger Aspect Productions
The Spa

The Spa

  • TV sitcom
  • Sky Living
  • 2013
  • 8 episodes (1 series)

Sky Living comedy series set in a Hertfordshire spa that proudly boasts it can cure anyone; the fat, the thin and the lazy. Stars Rebecca Front, Derren Litten, Tim Healy, Debbie Chazen, Nadine Marshall and more.

Press clippings

The Spa stars the incomparable Rebecca Front as the long-suffering head of a health, beauty and fitness centre, where staff and clients alike prove a constant source of grief, inconvenience and aggravation. The writer and creator is Derren Litten, who hit comedy pay dirt with Benidorm, ITV's most successful sitcom in years. Cynics might say ITV's only successful sitcom in years.

Despite the involvement of Front and Litten, I still didn't expect much from The Spa. Possibly because the basic premise reminded me of the late and lamentable The Brittas Empire, but more likely because the show is being broadcast on Sky Living. In all my years of flicking up and down the endless array of channels on offer, I have never found reason to stop and dally at Sky Living, or even work out what it was there for.

Well, knock me down with a gym ball, but The Spa is rather splendid. The characters are fun, the storylines outrageous, and the script fearless and successful in its pursuit of big out-loud laughs.

Rebecca Front holds centre stage as Alison, former Leighton Buzzard slimmer of the decade, whose imperious management style comprises brutal insensitivity complemented by a total absence of tact. Front fends off scene-stealing turns from a talented cast, most notably Frances Barber as boozed-up best mate Ginny, Tim Healy as the handyman who is quite literally too big for his breeches and Litten himself - it's your show, mate, you cast yourself in it - as an overweight, wheelchair-bound fitness instructor.

Harry Venning, The Stage, 15th February 2013

There are one or two funny moments in this second edition of Derren Litten's new health-club comedy - Alison (Rebecca Front) and her peculiar sleeping arrangements; Davina (Debbie Chazen) trying to realign the chakras of a flatulent punter; and Cheryl Fergison as insulted customer Ms Wylde being fobbed off with a colonic. The performances make this watchable.

But I'm still waiting for Frances Barber, as Alison's stable-owning mate Ginny, to get something worth her spit. And the addition of a Polish chef/plumber called - wait for it - Bolek seems to be heading nowhere and is just another sign of the woolly randomness of the script.

Patrick Mulkern, Radio Times, 14th February 2013

Rebecca Front interview

The star of Sky Living's The Spa talks about the demise of Armando Iannucci's political satire and her new role as bolshy spa manageress Alison Crabbe.

Claire Webb, Radio Times, 14th February 2013

Rebecca Front: There's so much female-led comedy coming

Comedy actress Rebecca Front, best known for her roles in The Thick Of It and Grandma's House, talks to Metro about her new Sky Living show The Spa and the rise of funny women.

Sharon Lougher and Keith Watson, Metro, 11th February 2013

The Spa - Episode 1.1 review

While watching this first episode, I felt slightly irritated by the lack of storyline. Actually, 'lack of' should read 'pretty much absence of'.

UK TV Reviewer, 8th February 2013

The spa and fitness industry gets a saucy scrub in this new sitcom led by British Comedy Award-winning Rebecca Front of The Thick Of It fame. Fresh from Benidorm writer Derren Litten, this yogatastic romp sees Front shimmy into the spanking new uniform of The Spa's team manager Alison Crabbe - Leighton Buzzard's slimmer of the decade. Subtle it ain't, so only time will tell if this one massages its way into our funny bones.

Carol Carter and Larushka Ivan-Zadeh, Metro, 7th February 2013

Rebecca Front is almost unrecognisable as blonde health club manageress and "Leighton Buzzard's slimmer of the decade" Alison Crabbe. Cheryl Fergison (EastEnders' Ev) plays an affronted punter, Bergita (sounds like "big eater"), while Tim Healy is a well-endowed handyman barely contained by his shorts. And the ever-arch Frances Barber pops up as... well, her role isn't clear in this first episode; maybe next week.

So, a promising ensemble for a sitcom that reads like a retread of The Brittas Empire, is a tad short on laughs and perhaps needed more sessions on a cross trainer before public exposure. Still, The Spa is the brainchild of Derren Litten, creator of the heroically bawdy Benidorm, which I won't hear a word against, so it could well take off in coming weeks. And this time, Litten has put himself in the frame as an aerobics instructor in a wheelchair.

Patrick Mulkern, Radio Times, 7th February 2013

We can imagine the pitch: 'Benidorm meets The Brittas Empire'. And if that was indeed the goal, The Spa (created by Benidorm mastermind Derren Litten) succeeds admirably.

Rebecca Front does a professional job as the spa manager Alison, keeping the show on the road while her staff, ranging from Nadine Marshall's tyrannical fitness instructor to Tim Healey's well-endowed handyman, threaten to derail it at every turn.

Highlights include the dippy receptionist confusing 'obese' with 'a beast', and an extended sequence in which a cleaner threatens suicide from the roof to a soundtrack so predictable that, if nothing else, makes the art of sitcom-writing look very easy indeed. Cheerful enough, then, but very short on laughs. Benidorm meets The Brittas Empire it is.

Gabriel Tate, Time Out, 7th February 2013

Introduction to The Spa

Comparisons between The Spa and The Brittas Empire, which was set in a leisure centre, have inevitably happened yet Derren says "Bizarrely, I've never seen an episode", but was aware of the basics - receptionist with a baby in the cupboard being one of them.

Elliot Gonzalez, , 7th February 2013

Benidorm writer Derren Litten launches a new comedy with the help of an outstanding cast including Rebecca Front and Frances Barber. Alison (Front) is Leighton Buzzard's slimmer of the decade and manager of The Spa, a supposed haven for the stressed but actually rather shrill and brightly coloured. The formidable Barber plays her boozy friend Ginny. No previews were available, but if those two can't provide the plumpers and fillers to Litten's trademark jolly-but-flawed scripts then no one can.

Julia Raeside, The Guardian, 6th February 2013

Share this page