The Spa (Sky Living, 2013)
This is a sitcom that was shown on Sky Living, a channel that I actually don’t have access to, because I only have Freeview. So why did it attract my interest, and why did I want to add it to my comedy DVD collection even though I never saw it at the time? Well when I saw some publicity for the show, one of the things that I thought was interesting was who played the main character.
It was Rebecca Front, who is someone who has appeared in a lot of comedy shows over the years, including the classic The Day Today. I also remember seeing her in the BBC3 sitcom Nighty Night (that I also plan to review soon) where she played a rather put-down and timid chracter, a huge contrast to her feisty and bossy character in this show, she looked totally different too, I could barely believe that it was the same woman (although this may be down to something that I believe is known in the TV industry as “acting”).
The Spa was created and written by Derren Litten, who was also behind Benidorm, the sitcom that ran successfully on ITV for about a decade. I have never had the experience of going to a health club myself, but I hope that it’s nothing like this, as it featured a typical sitcom ensemble of people who are amusingly useless at their jobs. Front starred as Alison, who is in charge of the spa and has a vision to be successful, but the staff usually hold her back, and they are rather low on visitors.
Staff include the scatterbrained receptionist Sally, and the aerobics instructor Marcus (played by Litten). Also featuring is the handyman Eric who is always having an embarrassing shorts malfunction, and Davina and Vron who try (and fail) to get people into shape. Making guest appearances in the show were Bradley Walsh (with a beard), Bonnie Langford, and the one and only Chesney Hawkes.
The Spa ran for one series and a special, but only the series has been released on DVD, and there are also some extras featuring the cast in character talking about their jobs. There were some good moments and it did seem to go down rather well with critics, with one saying that it was “genuinely funny” (well that is most probably because it was a sitcom).
I do remember when Sky started to make some of their own quirky sitcoms in the early-2000s including the likes of The Strangerers and Time Gentlemen Please, and The Spa was another enjoyable one, I think that it was definitely good enough to have got on BBC2 or Channel 4 and it was a disappointment that it didn’t return for a second series. Hopefully Sky will continue to make some more comedy shows that’ll catch my eye.