Finished watching Bonkers on DVD, a comedy drama thing from a couple of years ago starring Lisa Tarbuck and written by the genius Sally Wainwright, the best writer in television at the moment. I know, ‘comedy drama’ makes it sound dreadfully half-baked and fairy-lights-on-the-stairs but it’s what comedy drama should be – where the comedy is big, silly and funny and the drama is heartbreaking and suspenseful and it’s all about beautifully well-drawn characters all played by great actors. It’s the sort of thing that ITV has done very well over the past decade, largely by employing Sally Wainwright and Mike Bullen.
The premise of the show was a bit Life On Mars; Helen (Lisa Tarbuck’s character) is having a mid-life crisis, having discovered that her husband of twenty years (Mark Addy) has been having an affair with a teenager with whom he has fathered a three-year-old baby. The next day, her film star of her dreams, a Hugh Grant figure called Felix Nash, appears in her kitchen. Only she can see or hear him. On top of that, her son is sleeping with the neighbours, her brother has burned down his house and is being investigated by the police for the murder of his fiancée, her other brother is unhappily married to a woman who is convinced he’s gay, while Helen’s boss at work is in love with her... if only soap operas were as fast and rude and imaginative as this. Throughout, everyone is drinking copious quantities of red wine, and it all ends with a wedding; the two obligatory requirements of an ITV comedy drama.
I don’t remember it doing particularly well, I missed one or two episodes at the time so I’m guessing it was badly scheduled, but it’s certainly up there with At Home With The Braithwaites, Jane Hall and Unforgiven.