I’ve always liked Simon Amstell. I used to watch him on Popworld, Channel 4’s brutally irreverent pop magazine show, then was delighted when he moved on to Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Something about his delivery just appeals to me. So when I heard he was writing and starring in his own sitcom, I was pretty excited.
Then I watched the first episode. Grandma’s House is a sitcom about Amstell’s life, though he’s clearly playing a character rather than simply being himself. There are a number of actors in there familiar to comedy fans, such as Rebecca Front and James Smith from the fantastically satirical The Thick of It. It’s a good cast and it’s written by one of my favourite comics, so I could reasonably be expected to enjoy it. I watched the first episode and was so disappointed.
I laughed once or twice, and even then they were only chuckles. I was never bored; it was entertaining and admittedly well-written but I wouldn’t describe it as funny, particularly.
I stuck with the programme though, watching it on iPlayer after each weekly episode. To my delight, episode 2 was a lot better than episode 1, and that has continued with each episode being funnier and more interesting than the one preceding it. Grandma’s House is today on Episode 5 out of a short run of 6, and I’d now say it is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in years.
The characters are memorable — especially Clive, Grandpa and Liz — and the great lines now come thick and fast. From episode five, here’s a cracker:
It’s boring to protect wood! — Simon, complaining about coasters
I’m holding out until the next episode before I write more definitively on the series, but in the mean time the entire series is up on iPlayer. I highly recommend you watch it: start with the first and stick with it. Grandma’s House is one worth visiting.