There’s clearly hard work behind Not Going Out. It never seems to rely on one of its actors filling in gaps in the script with a bit of over the top performing, nor does it attempt to do things it can’t realistically do. Instead, the show works once more as it always has: with a good, witty script as the foundation of it. Furthermore, it’s a script that’s got the willingness to invest time in a gag early on, knowing the pay-off may yet be 20 minutes away as it does so.
Series five of Not Going Out, then, has a bit of a feel of as-you-were about it. Lee Mack and Tim Vine, as, er, Lee and Tim, are the two characters who have been in the show since day one, playing best friends. Meanwhile, Tim’s sister, Lucy (Sally Bretton) and his girlfriend Daisy (Katy Wix) make up the remainder of the key quartet.
Lee remains jobless, still has a thing for Lucy, Tim is still a middle class snob… well, you know all of this.
In Band, then, the first episode of the new run, Tim joins a band, and Lee gets jealous, wanting in. That’s the guts of the idea there, but as regular viewers of the show know, once it has its outline idea, its joke hit rate proves high.
That’s certainly the case here, even if Band doesn’t quite live up to the heights of the series at its best. There are some good laughs to be had, though, and both Mack and Vine get to indulge in some musical shenanigans, too. It seems unfair to tell you more, and ruin the punchlines and setups, so I’ll leave that there.
Instead, I’ll say this: as Not Going Out always manages, by the time the credits role, you’re left feeling you’ve had a really good half hour of entertainment.
It’s testament to the commitment of Mack to the show, and to the key performers, that Not Going Out continues to work. It’s refreshingly gimmick-free in its approach, living or dying on how well each episode is written and played. And fortunately, on the evidence here, it’s a programme that’s still got a lot of laughs left in the tank.
I genuinely can’t think of a current British sitcom that’s proven so consistently strong for so long. Long may it continue.