The Worst Week Of My Life (BBC1, 2004-2005)
Sitcoms come and sitcoms go, but this is one that caught my attention. I didn’t see too much of it first time round, but there were a few things that attracted me to it and made me decide that it was worth adding it to my comedy DVD collection. Firstly, it was because it had an impressive cast. And secondly, because it featured some rather bizarre situations.
Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller have been in a comedy double-act for over 25 years now, but they have also appeared in a lot of TV shows separately, and The Worst Week Of My Life was a sitcom where Miller went it alone. There were two series that contained seven episodes with each one showing what happened on that day of the week, so episode one is set on Monday, episode two on Tuesday, and so on, leading up to the big climax.
In series one, Howard (Miller) is about to get married to Mel (Sarah Alexander). Now this can be a stressful experience for most people, but Howard is somehow determined to make it as awkward for himself as possible. Mel’s parents are Angela (Alison Steadman) and Dick (Geoffrey Whitehead, who seems to have appeared in every other TV and radio sitcom since the early-70s, maybe he should win a special award for “most appearances by an actor whose name you can’t remember”), and also appearing are Mel’s younger sister Sophie and Dick’s brother Fraser.
It is not clear if Mel’s parents really approve of Howard, and everything he does to try and make amends with them only seems to make things worse. He soon realises that anything that can go wrong will go wrong, and he does things like losing the wedding ring, having a run-in with an ex-girlfriend, and sleeping in the wrong bed. There was also a lot of physical comedy in the Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em-style involved.
This was successful enough for there to be more, so the second series was based around the week of the run-up to the birth of Howard and Mel’s first child, and again it’s a rather disastrous experience, with Howard caught in yet more daft “whose trousers are these?”-type moments. But it was felt that there was still a chance to explore this idea more, so it returned for a third series as…
The Worst Christmas Of My Life (BBC1, 2006)
This was a mini-series that consisted of only three episodes featuring a shambolic Christmas. It featured one of my favourite moments in the series when there was a rather awkward misunderstanding, when Dick needs a rest, and goes and sits in an undertakers, Howard sees him in there and of course gets the wrong impression, and he goes off to tell the bad news to Mel and Angela, and they are upset, but not as upset as when they discover that he hadn’t died at all. It was so horrible but I just had to laugh. All three series have been released on DVD, and extras include some interviews and outtakes.