Moving back with your mam was explored perfectly well in Emma Fryer‘s Home Time – the familiar yet suffocating embrace of the friends you left behind and the parents you resent but can’t do without. And now here’s Big Bad World which follows Ben “Ben” Turnbull (Blake Harrison, Neil from the Inbetweeners) as he returns back from uni defeated (nobody returns from university triumphant – it’s just not a thing). With an MA in Norse poetry employers are falling over themselves to ignore him so he’s back with ma (Caroline Quentin last seen nausing everyone out in Marks & Spencer’s adverts) and da (James Fleet forever immortalised as a well-meaning cock in Four Weddings and a Funeral). His folks have knocked through the wall separating his bedroom from theirs so he’s essentially sharing a room with them. If you’re at university right now you probably think it will never come to this. Well, it will. It comes to everyone – deeper, longer and harder than ever now so suck it up.
He bemoans his luck to his old friends. That’s Meg (Rebecca Humphries) who silently crushes on him which might make us root for her if she weren’t a professional chugger and therefore a terrible human being. Then there’s the anti-university Oakley – a tryhard teed fond of saying things like”Oakley’s golden rule number one”. Then we have Egg Man (Seann Walsh) who looks like Saxondale and acts like Jeff from Coupling.
With friends like these it’s no wonder he decides voluntary work on another continent is his only option. But when he goes for the interview it’s his ex-girlfriend Lucy (Scarlett Alice Johnson) taking his details. She was the one who got away and she now has a borefriend who looks like John “bigger than me or you” Carew. So what does Ben do? Go and shovel shit in Calcutta or stay put, fight for Lucy’s hand and the job that never comes, all the while watching his mother give his father the saddest handjob in America? Well it will be the latter, obviously.
So what does Ben do? Go and shovel shit in Calcutta or stay put, fight for Lucy’s hand and the job that never comes, all the while watching his mother give his father the saddest handjob in America?
Big Bad World is inoffensive enough. If that sounds like faint praise be aware that most new sitcoms are extraordinarily offensive. There are a couple of funny jokes (Lucy ticking off the bland platitudes people give as reasons for volunteering is neat) and it’s already superior to Rev, Count Arthur Strong and Bob Servant Independent but it’s not really going to knock you senseless with the force of its lulz.
The search for a killer vehicle for Blake Harrison goes on. He is at least much better suited to Ben then he was to Dave from Todd Margaret. It’s tough to follow a character like Neil but I nonetheless see him becoming this generation’s Nicholas Lyndhurst and settling into a tolerable but ultimately fatuous successful BBC sitcom which will keep him in psychedelic truffles, pork scratchings and being pissed on by post-op trans hookers or whatever disgusting showbiz kink he’s into.
The verdict: The Graduate gave everyone false hope.
Marks out of 10: 6