Colin’s Sandwich (BBC2, 1988-1990)
This is another sitcom that I don’t remember from the time, but here’s why I was interested in finding out more about this one. Mel Smith and Griff Rhys Jones appeared in a lot of comedy shows together over the years, but like most double acts, they also worked on a few shows separately, and this is a thoughtful and downbeat sitcom that was designed to for Smith to star in on his own. The first series even received a Radio Times cover.
Smith was Colin, who has possibly the most humdrum existence of any sitcom character in this era. Colin works in the complaints department of British Rail, and often has to deal with endless complaints on the phone. It’s consistent work but it’s the same routine day in day out, he couldn’t be more bored if he tried, and his colleagues are hugely unsympathetic. Needless to say, he doesn’t look forward to Monday mornings.
The only way that Colin can get through this is because he is always aiming for something a little more. He would like to become a successful writer, especially in the horror genre. He often spends his time at home at the typewriter with huge amounts of paper everywhere trying to think of ideas. If only he had a stroke of luck he could soon be outselling Stephen King.
We also hear his inner thoughts as he tries to deal with various people, and the other main characters are Colin’s girlfriend Jenny and friend Des, who do their best to encourage Colin to keep trying, and he constantly hopes that the telephone will ring with some good news. But he seems to be one of those people who constantly ends up making things more difficult for himself, leading to some bizarre mishaps and endless bad luck.
And yet, despite the overall fairly glum tone of the show, Colin does actually take the first steps into success and being a published writer, and he really tries to grab the opportunity. They won’t laugh at him in the office now! Colin finally begins to cheer up, realising that his aim maybe isn’t such a daft idea, and he’ll soon be hobnobbing with all the big cheeses or something. I’m not sure where the sandwich comes into it though.
There were 12 episodes of Colin’s Sandwich in two series, and they were definitely enhanced by Smith’s performance, as he was someone who was often praised for his naturalistic style of acting. There was also a repeat run of the second series on BBC2 in 1992. The show has been released on DVD, but it’s rather hard to track down, it does seem to be worth it though.