Meet the Richardsons (Dave) is back for a second series, with the amiable mockumentary once again offering an insight into the marriage of the comedians Lucy Beaumont and Jon Richardson, who live in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, with their three-year-old daughter, Elsie. Mostly, they talk to camera about what annoys them about each other, but there is a spot of storyline, too. It is all very charming. “We’ve got to start this series remembering where we left off,” says Lucy, to camera. “He’s a nobhead.”
The tone is set early on. It is an insight into their marriage in the same way that HBO/Sky One’s The Flight Attendant is a training manual for air stewards, which is to say that it is heightened, exaggerated and plays to the crowd. It makes for a zippy half-hour and – although it feels strange to say it is pleasurable, given the bickering – I happily cackled away for much of it. The idea of being so unnaturally familiar with your partner’s company that you start to wind them up for something to do feels relatable at this time. I can’t think why.
Jon, it turns out, is coping well with lockdown. He was socially distancing before it was fashionable and has stockpiled tins of tomatoes, stacking them up next to loo rolls in the bathroom cupboard. It suits him to work from his garage, which he has turned into a pub – the Dog and Bastard – and he prefers to not have to touch any strangers at the best of times.
His role in this is the bewildered curmudgeon. When Jon and Lucy sit on their sofa arguing about who taught Elsie to say “for fuck’s sake” and whether it is appropriate or not for her to use the phrase “bugger off”, it is a little like the in-between bits of Gogglebox, those moments where the families sit on their settees chatting about their lives, rather than a TV show or a news report. When they go for a walkabout in Hebden Bridge, they send up their new notoriety, waving at their neighbours, who treat them like the reality stars they are pretending to be. Keeping Up With the Richardashians, if you will.
A little plot neatens it up and chivvies it along, though, and it comes from Lucy, who is busy with work. Her sitcom script, Wet Cloth Dry Cloth, has been picked up by the BBC, which wants to make a pilot. Johnny Vegas, a previous guest star, is lined up to direct (he is “the next Mike Leigh”) and Lucy has kindly kept Jon’s catchphrase: “Save it for bingo.” Wet Cloth Dry Cloth is co-written by Tim Reid, who co-wrote Peter Kay’s Car Share and – as this is all very meta – co-writes Meet the Richardsons.
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I would watch Wet Cloth Dry Cloth, pitched as a sitcom in the style of Miranda or Mrs Brown’s Boys about a group of cleaners at the University of Hull, even though Jon is so worried it might kill his career that he demands his agent makes up an excuse to get him out of it. Even so, the “comedians making jokes about other comedians and comedy” angle is less fun than the general mockumentary feel. I suspect they know it: it doesn’t seem as prominent this time around.
Outside the sitcom-within-a-sitcom, Lucy tries to get Jon to teach her to drive, which – as many of us will know from bitter experience – is a recipe for never speaking to a family member again. Their neighbours Damion and Emma have had a taste of fame since their own catchphrase – “couscous” – went viral. Now they are enjoying the celebrity life and wondering what word to elevate next.
It is all very silly. As with Pls Like, BBC Three’s mockumentary about social media, it seems very aware of the line it treads, in terms of who it is mocking and why. The couple have said that their inspiration came from being asked to appear on a celebrity couples’ show; here, they discuss fake offers for Celebs Go All-inclusive and Keep Shagging and Carry On. (At least, I presumed they were fake – it says a lot that I had to check.) But it is never too unkind about people who do these shows, instead saving its sharp edges for a spot of self-reflection (Jon) or mockery of Jon (Lucy). The novelty hasn’t yet worn off yet, which is handy, as they have already started work on a third series. Save it for bingo!