Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body Joseph Addison, English Essayist, Poet, Dramatist and Statesman. 1672 - 1719

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Friday, 16 March 2012

Roger and Val Have Just Got In

To the disgust of Eldest Daughter, I have never been a great fan of Dawn French. Neither her comedic or straight acting. The first series of Roger and Val Have Just Got In made me think slightly differently, although I would have reserved any grand bouquets for Alfred Molina as 'Roger' for best actor and of course the writers Emma Kilcoyne and Beth Kilcoyne for such wonderful, intuitive writing. But whilst not forgetting that the idea for the series originated with Dawn French.

The second series has been for me a real relevation. Dawn French has out acted everyone [well since there were only two of them, and since 'everyone' until the last episode comprised the fabulous Alfred Molina, that could sound like damning with faint praise. But Dawn French really was GREAT!]

Goodness, I am using an awful lot of superlatives! But watching a series like this makes me wish I was still lecturing. If you haven't watched any episodes yet, you do have a treat in store. How do I describe Roger and Val Have Just Got In to you?

Maybe it is easier to tell you what the two series [first one shown in 2010, second one finished this week, both on BBC2. I believe the first series is being re-shown on UK Gold at the moment] are not. They are not the sort of 'comedy/drama sit-coms' that one may expect. First of all no studio audience or canned laughter. Any humour is the gentle, embarassing sort - the sort of things that we might recognise from our own domestic lives. Secondly there are - apparently - no big issues over which the couple argue or spend time discussing. There are not any glamourous, 'set' scenes. No grand reconciliations when there has been a falling out.

Each half-hour episode covers in real time the first half hour when the 'ordinary' married couple, Roger & Val, return home after their day out of the house - usually at their individual employments but sometimes other activities. It comprises the conversations and little quibbles that occur when two people who have lived together for years but are both tired, irritated maybe and also have underlying 'issues'. These are happening as small domestic jobs are carried out. Sound boring? It really isn't!

However as the first series developed the viewer realised that there was something underlying this marriage that the death of Roger's father was bringing back to the surface, something very deep and important. And the last episode of the first series made one want to go back and watch it all again for all the 'clues' and revel in the clever writing and planning. [If I sound enigmatic it is because I am trying to keep to the 'spoiler alert' rules!]

The second series started with the return from a family wedding. The balance between Roger and Val seemed to have shifted subtly because Roger is now trying to keep his job and Val is looking to promotion. But an additional underlying emotional,family 'issue' which sort of parallels but opposes that which surfaced in the last series begins to take over. Even Other Half got capitivated by this series and the final denouement was - and at the risk of sounding really over the top - was magical. [And had nothing to do with the fact that two old hippies were made very happy by hearing 'We Shall Overcome' being sung, albeit from inside a Wendy House] The connotation of the Wendy House with Peter Pan, the little boy who never grew up, and that implication was not missed. You can see why I wish I was still lecturing. I could have got this into both my English Lit courses and my Popular Culture days.....

I really hope that there is not a third series. No-one should attempt to improve perfection. Thank you Dawn French.

Another blog which shows that Essex girls appreciate great writing and acting. Elaine comes from the north of the County and I from the south east. She lives on the River Colne, I on the Thames Estuary. So don't believe all you see on TOWIE....

Photograph courtesy of Metro


  1. I agree with every single word you say. I will be posting about this too on my blog and will link toyours if I may. The last scene in the series reduced me to clutching my heart with tears streaming down my face and I agree Dawn was wonderful.

  2. Thanks Elaine, yes please link to yours and put your blog link up on here. I keep welling up whenever I think of the end - the balance that the writers maintained without being overly sentimental was very clever. Wish I was a creative writer but I know I could never attain that sort of writing!