I think I'll be keeping Mum
It's a while ago now, but one of my dad's best jokes '“ not a crowded field, you understand '“ was made at a funeral. It involved an egg sandwich and a distant relative, and seemed hilarious at the time.
I think he made this wisecrack at the end of the day, when most people were leaving, having exhausted the few platitudes they had, and having tired of cups of tea, sausage rolls and slices of Victoria sponge. We had experienced a tiring day, full of emotion – good and bad – and were probably on the verge of nervous hysteria, which is what made it so funny.
If a crack about eggy smells can still make my family giggle, you wonder what anecdotes the funeral in Mum (Fridays, BBC2, 10pm) might provoke.
Mum is one of the shows which is notionally a sitcom, but doesn’t provide many laughs. It’s got some funny lines, and some situations which raise a smile, but genuine guffaws? Not really.
The first episode showed middle-aged Cathy (Lesley Manville) preparing for her husband David’s funeral. Her son, Jason, is there, and so is his new girlfriend, Kelly, a blonde with no knickers and an estuary English accent so grating it hurts your ears.
Cathy’s brother and his hoity-toity partner Pauline have arrived, David’s mum and dad totter in while his mate Michael (Peter Mullan) loiters in the kitchen.
On first viewing, I didn’t think much of it. Kelly kept opening her mouth, only to put both feet straight in it. The snobbish Pauline came out in a rash at the thought of a buffet, and it all seemed a bit forced.
Second time around and I realised I was wrong. Manville does a lovely line in brittle, let’s-make-the-best-of-it stoicism, and Mullan underplays his role as lovelorn Michael, obviously smitten with Cathy.
Even Kelly – who gets most of the best lines – comes across as more nervous and desperate to please than stereotype airhead.
It’s not going to make you split your sides, but it will get under you skin.
Talking of which, Marcella (Mondays, ITV, 9pm) ended this week with a finale which made everything less clear than before. One of the most convoluted plots this side of the Dallas series-long dream sequence left me wondering if I hadn’t fallen into one of Marcella’s fugue states and missed several weeks’ worth of episodes.
Having said that, it was terrific fun, played with 110 per cent seriousness by the cast, at least 50 per cent of whom were bearded.
I reckon we might get a Line of Duty-esque second series, with a new central case to solve – or not – and the ramifications of this series hanging over Anna Friel’s glossily-coiffed bonce.