Two Doors Down Christmas Special, review: comedy as awkward as Christmas with the neighbours

·2-min read
Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely in Two Doors Down - BBC
Joy McAvoy and Graeme Stevely in Two Doors Down - BBC

What could be more festive than inviting the neighbours round for a deeply awkward drinks party? Nibbles and nervous smalltalk. It’s a tale nearly as old as Santa himself. This was the simple yet effective set-up for Two Doors Down (BBC Two).

Fairy lights and forced jollity came to the fore as Glaswegian suburbanites Michelle (Joy “sister of James” McAvoy) and Alan (Graeme “Grado” Stevely) welcomed fellow Latimer Crescent residents for a wee get-together. Prosecco corks popped. Games were reluctantly played. Guests wrinkled their nose at snacks from the German Christmas market and asked if they had any Doritos instead.

Beth and Eric (Arabella Weir and Alex Norton) had barely sat down before they were issued a last-minute invitation to spend Christmas with their son-in-law Gordon’s (Kieran Hodgson) family in Yorkshire. The prospect of their departure dismayed the recently bereaved Christine (Elaine C Smith).

Her unseen but oft-mentioned friend “Pat over the back” had died so she was facing Christmas alone “in quiet reflection”, watching Godzilla on Channel 5. She consoled herself by drinking her hosts dry and boasting about doing a reading at Midnight Mass.

Creepy Colin (Jonathan Watson) tried to corner Michelle under the mistletoe while sozzled, insufferable Cathy (Doon Mackichan) sneered at everything in sight. “Kazoo karaoke” and a touching tribute to Pat briefly got guests into the seasonal spirit – before Gordon over-indulged in a “good old Christmas marijuana joint” and threw up in the shrubbery. Two Doors Down won’t win any awards for originality.

Jamie Quinn and Kieran Hodgson in Two Doors Down - BBC
Jamie Quinn and Kieran Hodgson in Two Doors Down - BBC

It’s an unabashed throwback to those Seventies sitcoms about warring neighbours, social embarrassment and cats doing whoopsies on carpets. Snobs roll their eyes at its old-fashioned formula, preferring to watch dark, edgy comedies that aren’t actually funny. Then again, they’re equally sniffy about Mrs Brown’s Boys and that’s the biggest home-grown comedy on TV.

Two Doors Down shares some of its DNA. They’re both BBC Scotland productions with working-class characters, multi-generational casts and a penchant for potty-mouthed punchlines. With its endearing warmth and estimable ensemble cast, it’s also reminiscent of The Royle Family or Gavin & Stacey.

This was a wryly witty treat which captured the claustrophobic domesticity of Christmas, complete with well-observed bickering about sofa-beds and “number twos”. Now, what time is Godzilla on?

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