I watched this programme last year when the BBC, in its bid to make sure it was marketable, told us it was a 'sitcom', the impression was that we would find it very funny blah blah. I was not sure about it, but decided to watch and of course, the Beeb had got it wrong. It was neither of the above, it was a half hour play each week focussing on the events in a household when Roger and Val had just got in from work.
Roger is played by Alfred Molina and Val by Dawn French. He is a botanist who works at a garden centre, she is a teacher in charge of food technology. They arrive home, they make tea, they bicker, they chat and the script reflects the easy shorthand that a long married couple have, they
understand each other's foibles, jokes and thoughts and it was all underplayed and extremely well acted. In fact, it wasn't like acting at all, I felt as if I was watching a real couple, so good was it. Enjoyed the first episode in a mild sort of way and decided to stick with it and as the weeks went by I realised that there was an underlying tragedy in their marriage that had affected them both deeply. What this was became clear towards the end of the series and I found myself sitting on my sofa with tears dripping down my face, so moving did I find it - now Alfred Molina is known to be a brilliant actor but Dawn French is well known as a Funny Lady; think French and Saunders, the Vicar of Dibley - when she acted in Lark Rise to Candleford she was wildly over the top and it was like watching an extension of one of her characters. I am not the first blogger or writer to use the word 'revelation' to describe Dawn's portrayal of Val in this series. Underplayed, spot on, full of suble nuances, a lot of the action is facial as the camera zooms in on a reaction and I was absolutely stunned at how bloody wonderful she was.
The second series ended last night and, while I would love to see a third, I feel all has been resolved and a third might well spoil it. We have twelve perfect episodes, series one is out on DVD and I await series two with eagerness. The final few moments of the last episode had me clutching my heart with joy and sadness and in floods of tears and I have yet to find anybody else who also has appreciated Roger and Val have Just got In, who has not been similarly affected.
A quite marvellous series which has crept in under the radar. I wish the BBC would have the courage of its convictions and publicised this more and not hived it off to BBC2 at 10 pm. Please reshow all episodes on BBC1 at 8pm so everyone can see how wonderful it is. There are times when I am furious and irritated at the Beeb by its arrogant and dismissive attitude to its viewers and I bemoan some of the awful crappy programmes they show, but then something like this comes along and all is forgiven,
Moving, witty, delightful, superbly scripted, wonderfully acted and deeply deeply satisfying and no audience, no canned laughter, the viewers are treated as adults. More please.
I am linking to another blogger's thoughts which chime with my own and which are beautifully expressed: do read here
And here are a collection of reviews also worth reading here