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Beer (not actually on DVD) on-line  no.61

Back Series 1

A dark comedy, made by and starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb with scripts from Simon Blackwell, itís a squirmingly sharp tale of Stephen (David Mitchell) taking over his late fatherís Stroud pub, The John Barleycorn. Mitchellís Stephen, although dysfunctional, divorced and alcoholic has plans to revive the fortunes of the pub, when Andrew, one of Laurieís countless foster children, crashes back into Stephenís life in episode 1. Webb has never been better, his smarmy asides and smug air of superiority at the surface leave you scourging yourself as you find a vulnerability beneath. The six-part series has explored childhood trauma, jealousy, small-town angst and, above all, self-loathing. Plus, it is also excruciatingly funny.

Theyíre all strong characters: Jessica Gunning, as barmaid Jan, is relentlessly upbeat, and ďfull of bright ideasĒ. Sister Cass is a complete airhead, thereís Geoffrey McGivern, a boozy yokel and Stephenís grinning uncle Geoff, whoís committed to accidentally mucking everything up.

As itís on the edge of the affluent Cotswolds the planned refurb is to turn it into more of a gastro-pub, oh and did I mention the fire?

There are enough loose ends for the second series (scheduled and said to be in production) so we should see these characters again. Davidís widowed mother Ellen delivers a bombshell in the final episode. If you know what it is, donít spoil it for anyone who hasnít reached that far yet. All of them have been rounded, no way cardboard: Mitchell and Webb donít get all the best lines by any means.

You can buy the dvd for around a tenner.

printed in O-to-K , 2019  main text ©RKW 2019