Game On (BBC2, 1995-1998)
This is a sitcom from the mid-90s, that centres around the adventures of three young people who share a flat in London. It was co-created and co-written by Andrew Davies, who was also behind Marmalade Atkins among many other shows. I must admit that I don’t remember watching it too much first time round, but it caught my attention in repeat runs, and it’s one of the few shows that I can think of that turned up on both UK Gold and UK Play in the late-90s when I was a regular viewer of those great channels.
In Game On, Matthew is the landlord, and he lives with Martin who he has known since his schooldays. Although they are both on the hunt for a woman, Matthew is much more bold about it, because he is insistent that he is “double hard”. And there is also Mandy (one of the earliest TV roles for Samantha Janus after leaving the pop music business behind, having represented the United Kingdom at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1991), a friend of Martin’s sister, who had various jobs.
All the characters try to deal with their love and work lives as they get increasingly complicated, but it is rather difficult. Matthew seems to spend most of the time at home watching TV (especially Emmerdale), and tries to form a band, but doesn’t succeed. And Martin does eventually find a girlfriend, Clare the nurse, something that he is rather pleased about, while Mandy soon falls for her new boss Archie.
When Game On returned for the second series, Matthew was played by a different actor, and Martin and Mandy did their best not to notice. When looking back at some of the earliest episodes now, notable moments included Matthew reading Loaded magazine, references to films like Reservoir Dogs, and the theme music “Where I Find My Heaven” by indie band Gigolo Aunts (which was also a hit single around the time of the first series), it couldn’t really be any more of a mid-90s time capsule if it tried.
There were three series of Game On, I don’t know if it was a plan to be the BBC2 equivalent of Men Behaving Badly, but that’s how it came across sometimes, and the way Matthew and Martin carried on, it was arguably even more laddish and unsophisticated. Also, I suppose that it couldn’t be put in the top bracket of comedy shows that were around at the time (I would put it behind the likes of The High Life for example), and maybe it was a little too vulgar for some tastes, but it was still an enjoyable watch.
All 18 episodes of Game On have been released on DVD, rather a long time ago now, but they are rather low on extras, although in more recent years they were repeated on Dave. I am beginning to feel that we are now at the point where if a sitcom from the 80s or 90s hasn’t already been released on DVD, then it probably never will be, because the way we watch archive TV is constantly changing, but hopefully there will still be a few surprises to come.