The Stage

Blogs

TV Today

Why We Love Miranda

The simple answer is because it’s good. Yes, every now and then it does happen and somebody comes up with a decent, honest to goodness, line and length studio-based sitcom. And with Miranda, writer and series lead Miranda Hart has done just that.

The show is essentially a TV version of Hart’s Radio 2 comedy, Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop, and is semi-autobiographical. Miranda owns a joke shop downstairs from her flat, which she runs with uptight best friend Penny (Sarah Hadland). Next door is Conky’s Grill, a bistro in which Gary (Tom Ellis) is the chef. And of course, Miranda has had the hots for him for years, but it never quite happens thanks to her endearingly inept attempts at seduction. And what sitcom would be complete without an overbearing mother? Patricia Hodge is at her very best as Miranda’s mother, Penny, who is desperate to get her worrisome daughter married off.

So far, so average.

But what sets Miranda out as something special is Hart herself, and the rest just gels around her. She has a charmingly self-effacing air that is forever gamely tries to overcome her social ineptness. This usually manifests itself as some deft slapstick.

Hart engages with the audience instantly - mostly thanks to her direct addresses and side-glances to camera, even in the middle of the narrative. Her manner is in the great tradition of some of our best comedy characters, being essentially a lovable idiot. She suffers from the same insecurities and desires we do, but magnified to absurd but strangely believable levels.

And crucially, we like her in a way we don’t like David Brent. We sympathise with her, we want her to succeed, and we laugh - both with and at her.

And as for Patricia Hodge, it’s just a brilliant, brilliant performance. Penny is a wonderful sitcom mum - overbearing, snobbish, batty. And it’s fantastic to see an actress who has been on our screens for years still doing good work. And to a vintage TV daftie like me, it was nice to see her sharing a brief moment of screen time with her former Holding the Fort co-star Peter Davison in last night’s second episode.

Above all, Miranda has that comfortingly British innocence about it in that absurd and daft way that some of our best comedy has had over the years.

There are, as with everything, some weaknesses. Tom Ellis, as I may have noted in the past, is not the greatest practitioner of the actor’s craft ever to grace a TV screen. As a result his chemistry with Hart sometimes feels a little forced. Elsewhere there are some damp firing gags here and there, but that’s something even the best comedies suffer from.

Miranda might not be the new Fawlty Towers, but it does have charm, laughs and a likable star, which is certainly enough to make it the best studio-based sitcom since Black Books. And I don’t say that lightly

6 Comments

Hahahahaha, it's absolutely awful. Awkward in cheek chewing, eye twitching, painful ways, and most seriously, just not funny. Watching Patricia Hodge and Peter Davison gurning through the 'You have been watching...' titles brought back something visceral, horrific and repressed from my 70s childhood, and was an insult to two performers who should know better. All I can think of is Miranda Hart must be not sleeping with someone gravely important to bypass the BBC3 obscurity that this so sorely deserves.

I think it's one of those love it or hate it kind of shows. And you clearly hate it! :) I think it gets by on the charm and talents of Hart herself, and with anybody else it would fall flat. But then I guess, Hart is the material, and the material is Hart. Or something.

But it's made me laugh far more than the vastly overrated The IT Crowd ever has. I don't know much about comedy, but I know what makes me laugh

Cheers

Mark

I am with Mark Wright on this one. I have sought out and cherished real quality in comedy for close on 50 years and this really does hit the mark and make me laugh out loud. It is inspired and very funny. Miranda was wonderful in Not Going Out and here she is again, this time deservedly taking centre stage. I love it. Let's hear it for Miranda !!

I think it's awesome! Delightful fun - that's all. It's not aiming for superior or intellectually challenging heights. It's just really good at what it does.

Have to say, I don't agree at all. It fell so flat and lacked any sort of punch at all. One of those tv shows where the cast almost seemed to speak everything as though they knew it was going to go down like a tonne of bricks. BBC - what a waste of money!

It is funny in a very British way, the same as Sorry! 20 years ago, and Fawlty Towers before that.
It is the best new comedy on TV since The Office.

Loading
Subscribe to The Stage Podcast (iTunes edition) Square Eyes: Twice weekly TV previews Turn off the TV: TV Today's radio picks

Recent Comments

GH on Why We Love Miranda
It is funny in a very British way, the s...
am on Why We Love Miranda
Have to say, I don't agree at all. It fe...
Boz on Why We Love Miranda
I think it's awesome! Delightful fun - t...
Jason on Why We Love Miranda
I am with Mark Wright on this one. I ha...
Mark Wright on Why We Love Miranda
I think it's one of those love it or hat...
Everyone Else on Why We Love Miranda
Hahahahaha, it's absolutely awful. Awkwa...

Content is copyright © 2012 The Stage Media Company Limited unless otherwise stated.

All RSS feeds are published for personal, non-commercial use. (What’s RSS?)