Simon Amstell - the former T4 and Never Mind the Buzzcock’s host - has dipped from the limelight over the last few years and it looks like he is taking his career in a different direction with the second series of his sitcom ‘Grandma’s House’. And a good direction it is.
The show focuses on Simon (who plays himself) who still lives at his Grandma’s house following the first series in which he was forced to sell his flat. Basically, he’s trying to discover what he is doing with his life. This is fictional even though Simon plays himself. Unlike Simon, his family is portrayed by actors – including sitcom heavyweight Rebecca Front who plays his mum who also spends most of her time in Grandma’s house. Having not seen the first series, it’s reassuring to know that it’s one of those shows you can just watch without having much knowledge of what happened previously. Most of the backstory is cleverly and subtly woven into the dialogue.
In this first episode of the second series, Simon has brought home a young lad (Simon’s gay if you weren’t in the know) who he wakes up next to only to discover he is 16. Whoops. He subsequently tries to get him to leave before anyone discovers him. But this proves more difficult than he would have imagined as he struggles to get him past his slightly wacky family who are dealing with their own problems. Simon’s mum’s love interest Clive turns up serenading her then decides he is going to fix the damp problem in Grandma’s house just to try and spend more time in the house. In between all this, Simon’s Mum and Aunt aren’t talking to each other and Grandma is struggling to deal with the loss of her husband. Comedy ensues.
What I love about this show is the members of Simon’s family - they are all completely unique and a little over the top whereas Simon is just himself. It creates this brilliant sense of surrealism. His aunt is a brilliant character - she’s erratic and pretty stupid and she has a moustache and has actually won a comedy award for her role. His Grandma is your stereotypical Grandma, she frets about everyone and tries to keep everyone happy in the house, keeping her own feelings suppressed until she pops. In contrast to these exaggerated characters is Simon, who doesn’t really act and just plays himself. His awkward, uncomfortable style brings out the best of his dry and witty humour in the show. I wonder what his family think of this in real life?
To a certain extent this show reminded me of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ with the actions of Simon resulting in an almost farce. It’s nice to finally see a well written and original show making it straight on to BBC Two and not having to slog it out for a series on BBC Three. It’s always a good sign if it’s not on BBC Three, sometimes good shows have to prove themselves by going on that channel, like ‘Growing Pains’ which is shit and subsequently didn’t make it on to BBC2.
I’m glad to see that Simon Amstel has found a vehicle for his comic talent. I always found it quite hard to watch him on Buzzcock’s, he was always hilarious but sometimes he went too far and I think the producers of the show knew that. This show is a very clever and well written show which will have you laughing throughout. Do not miss out. If you have missed the start then catch it on iPlayer.