Coupling (BBC2, 2000-2002, BBC3, 2004)
If Game On (that I reviewed recently) could be claimed to be BBC2’s equivalent of Men Behaving Badly, then this sitcom could be seen as BBC2’s equivalent of Friends, which was a very popular show at the time, although I’ve never watched it that much myself, but it’s no surprise that there was an attempt at a British variation. Coupling followed the lives of six attractive young people, three male, three female.
The show was created and written by Steven Moffat, who was also behind CITV’s Press Gang, and later went on to be a big influence on the early years of the revival of Doctor Who. The men were Steve (Jack Davenport), Patrick (Ben Miles), and Jeff (Richard Coyle), who often got himself into some rather awkward situations, and many viewers considered him to be the funniest character, including myself.
The women were Sally (Kate Isitt, who had previously appeared in ITV’s sitcom Is It Legal?), Susan (Sarah Alexander, who would go on to much more success, including BBC1’s sitcom The Worst Week Of My Life), and Jane (Gina Bellman, who around the time of the first series in 2000 featured on a Radio Times gatefold cover along with about a dozen other up-and-coming actors who were tipped for big things, even though she had actually appeared on the cover of Radio Times before… in 1989, over a decade earlier).
This handsome sextet often spent a lot of time in trendy wine bars talking about the latest situation in their love lives, that were all becoming increasingly entangled. There were also some rather ambitious ideas in some episodes, including telling the same story from three different perspectives, and two different stories being played out at the same time in split-screen.
One of the most amusing things about the show for many people was that the male and female take on what was happening were often completely different. Jeff left at the end of the third series, and he was replaced by Oliver (Richard Mylan) for the fourth and final series (which was also relegated to BBC3, although it was later repeated on BBC2), but the show seemed to lose a little of its fizz without him.
There were 28 episodes of Coupling, they have all been released on DVD, it went on to win a British Comedy Award, and in 2003 there was also briefly an American version, but this didn’t do that well. Another notable thing about the show is that the theme song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” was performed by 80s pop star Mari Wilson (see I told you that she made a song after 1984!!).