The Smoking Room
In a nutshell: BBC3 go single-room
The 411: Set solely in the designated smoking room of a nameless
run-of-the-mill company, The Smoking Room explores the personal quirks and desires of the room’s most
"petty jealousies circulate around the room as freely as the fag smoke…"
Once again, this is a brilliantly well observed
and subtle recreation of office life from the BBC. Brian
script has attracted a strong cast. Robert Webb (fresh
from Channel Four’s Peepshow) is Robin, secretly
in love with Ben from the post-room. Paula Wilcox is
Lilian, the flirty divorce who enjoys a bizarrely platonic
relationship with the sewer-mouthed security guard Len (Leslie
The smoking room is where they escape work to discuss their
obsessions. There’s a palpable sense of disappointment with
life – tales of failed relationships, dead-end jobs and petty
jealousies circulate round the room as freely as the fag smoke.
They are bound together by their fatal flaws
as much as their fondness for a puff. Clint’s stupidity, Robin’s
self-delusion and Sally’s paranoia mean that they’re stuck
in their life situations – not one of them will ever take responsibility
for their actions but they will stay fixated on food, women
or dreams of a romance with the gay postboy.
Nicotine addiction is an alibi. The smoking room enables them
to play out each other’s dysfunction, supporting each other’s
delusions while remaining utterly focused on their own problems.
Painfully accurate at times and frequently very funny, The Smoking Room manages
to do exposition without dropping an anvil on your head. It’s
required viewing when it comes to terrestrial next month.
The best thing about it: Barry’s completely shite crossword
BARRY (doing crossword): Auschwitz – that’s O-W
BARRY: What do you want?
ROBIN: No, I mean A-U is the first two letters of Auschwitz.
BARRY: Oh. And the rest?
BARRY: You sure there’s not another letter?
ROBIN: Yes. What’s the clue?
BARRY: Camp. 10 letters.
ROBIN: Might it be "effeminate"?
BARRY: Oh. Right.
The worst thing about it: Smokers are portrayed as human beings
rather than the shit-sucking soulless addicted crippled bitches
The verdict on The Smoking Room: Other Low-budget High-concept Sitcoms Can Seriously
Damage Your Health
Marks out of 10: 7.5.