Barking In Essex

Published September 17, 2013

Imagine, if you will, The Osbournes meets The Sopranos via The Only Way Is Essex and you’re somewhere close to the f***ed up familial farce of Barking In Essex.

The Packers, career criminals who couldn’t spell heist let alone plan one, are more inbred than a Tesco sandwich filling and as vacuous as it is possible to be without becoming the god of suction cleaning.

What a pickle these pernicious pillocks find themselves in. Little brother Algie has just been released from prison but, unbeknownst to intelligence-vacuum older brother Darnley (Lee Evans), Darnley’s wife (Keeley Hawes) and mother (Sheila Hancock) have p****d it all up the wall. They’re up s**t creek without the proverbial even before they’re surprised by the arrival of Algie’s unknown Mrs. Without a c***ing plan, they’re f***ed.

Like the lair of an obsessive gravedigger, the hole they’re in keeps getting bigger, mainly because they appear to have given their communal brain cell the day off.

Whether it’s Hawes’ Chrissie, who spends the first half looking like a purple Quality Street who’s just been told it’s everyone’s least favourite option, or Hancock’s matriarchal Emmie, whose outlook on life is that education is for wimps, no-one’s got a b****ck’s chance in hell of conceiving a believable explanation for the disappearance of £3.5 million in ill-gotten gains. Time to go on the run.

Evans, taking a break from high energy stand-up but throwing in a few recognisable struts and head scratches, successfully finds the vulnerability in Darnley, who is unquestionably a f***wit but one who is quite clearly the product of a situation more twisted than a uncoordinated octopus on a helter-skelter.

The show, the last written by prolific TV scribe Clive Exton, finds its humour in poking fun at those who aspire to little more than five minutes of fame and draping themselves in gaudy baubles, delights in malapropisms and takes a great pleasure, as you may have guessed, in injecting as many earthy phrases as possible into the mouths of its characters, never to greater effect than when Hancock gets hold of them.

What it lacks in subtlety it makes up for with balls out brashness and over the top characters whose antics had the audience p***ing themselves with laughter.

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