Thursday, 21 February 2008

Never Better is a hidden comedy gem

If I have missed a storm of acclaim for a comedy show I am about to hail as a hidden gem, I do apologise. The fact is that I have not seen any mention of BBC2’s excellent 'Never Better' in the television pages of newspapers, nor have I heard anyone outside our house actually talking about the programme.

‘Never Better’ follows Keith, a recovering alcoholic played by the Green Wing’s Stephen Mangan and his attempts to establish a life which does not involve drinking. Black comedy ensues from the fact that Keith has become preoccupied and introspective through giving up alcohol. He moves through life scrutinising his own mood, behaviour and relationships, often oblivious to the needs and perceptions of others.

The series is pointed in lampooning the jargon and platitudes of recovery. Keith attends Alcoholics’ Anonymous meetings and attempts to participate but fails abjectly to engage with the confessional ethos engendered by the humourless leader of the group. Meanwhile Keith’s friend Richard provides a comic foil meeting his friend in a ‘coffee outlet’ (or cafĂ© as Keith insists) and frequently insinuating that the recovery process is actually having an adverse effect on Keith’s life.

Keith’s grapple with the complexities of family and social life is subtly drawn. The series is also very funny. More people should be watching this programme!

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