Astonishing. The BBC are broadcasting a sitcom on one of their terrestrial channels. Just when you thought they’d given up on the genre entirely. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but sadly, not by much. BBC 1 hasn’t had a sitcom since, well, I can’t remember, it was a fair few months ago. And when was the last studio-audience show on BBC 2? Of course, the BBC still does make a few sitcoms, almost as an obligation or as niche programming – created to win awards and get reviews in The Guardian, or to fulfil BBC 3’s remit to show programmes that none but the most slack-jawed of teenagers would ever desire to watch (such is their underestimation of the intelligence of their audience – they assume all under-25s are happy-slapping shelf-stackers, not university students).
Anyway, these bitter rantings of a failed wannabe are merely a preamble, a preamble set in the past tense of How Things Used To Be, because things have changed. BBC 2 are currently showing a sitcom which is actually rather funny. Okay, it’s not up there with The Big Bang Theory or even How I Met Your Mother, but it has jokes, it has funny characters, it has comedy arising from situation. It’s called Miranda. Originally I was lukewarm towards it, not being a fan of Miranda Hart, but consider me converted.
Read a review somewhere that described the show as ‘self-consciously’ retro; aside from the fact that a show can’t be ‘self-conscious’ - that’s the reviewer imposing their emotional reaction upon it – I don’t think it's ‘retro’ at all. A studio audience, two or three sets and five minutes of location filming; that’s the format of the genre. Even asides to camera, or waving to camera at the end, isn’t ‘retro’. Traditional, yes, but traditional because it works.