Hardware (ITV1, 2003-2004)
Simon Nye has written and created a lot of great sitcoms over the years including Men Behaving Badly, Is It Legal? and My Wonderful Life (yes I’m going on about it again), and he was also behind Hardware, which somewhat unsurprisingly was set in a hardware shop.
Mike (Martin Freeman) works alongside Kenny (Peter Serafinowicz) at Hamway’s Hardware Store in London, and they both find the work rather boring, seemingly being more interested in scaring customers away by being rude to them than actually helping them out with what they need.
Also working in the store is the grumpy middle-aged boss Rex who often has pranks played on him, and the student trainee Steve, who mostly seems to be there so that when he makes a mistake Kenny can mockingly shout “student!” at him, and this was seemingly an attempt at creating a catchphrase for the show.
When Mike and Kenny aren’t doing this they seem to spend most of their spare time in the nearby Nice Day Cafe which is run by Julie and also Anne who is Mike’s girlfriend, although they often interfere with their work and they would prefer that the two men concentrate on trying to get some customers into their store.
Hardware was a sitcom that seemed to come and go, it was shown on Sunday nights but there wasn’t much of a buzz around it, but it I do think that it was one of the best ITV sitcoms of its era, although there weren’t really that many others around at the time. Martin Freeman and Peter Serafinowicz are two great comedy actors who went on to much bigger things after Hardware ended and they always put in great performances.
Among some of my favourite episodes are where the others trick Rex into thinking that his height is shrinking and he gets very annoyed with them, and also in the final episode Peter Davison guest stars somewhat inexplicably. Hardware eventually ran for two series which have both been released on DVD by Network and it is definitely a sitcom recommended by me.