I’m going to assume you’re all clever enough to be watching Mum.
*Deep breath* Okay…
I mentioned it in passing way back here when the first series was on, and the show is currently nearing the end of it’s second series on the BBC.
Written and directed by Stefan Glaszewski, who cut his comedy teeth in sketch group Cowards and was also responsible for the almost as brilliant Him and Her, it tells the story of Cathy (played by Lesley Manville), trying to carry on after the death of her husband. Which doesn’t sound like the most cheerful of premise for a comedy show, I’ll admit, but it’s so well written and acted it’s pretty much perfect and irresistible.
The ensemble cast includes her son, Jason (Sam Swainsbury) who still lives at home with her (and is always eating), and his girlfriend Kelly (Lisa McGrills) who, shall we say, is not the brightest bead on the rosary. As with Him and Her, every episode is filmed in the same location, the family home, where Cathy, Jason and Kelly are inevitably visited by Cathy’s newly-separated brother Derek (Ross Boatman) and his hideously wannabe posh new girlfriend Pauline (Dorothy Atkinson), who spends every scene looking down her nose at whoever she is on screen with her. Also in tow are her in-laws, the fabulously cantankerous, bewildered and foul-mouthed Reg (Karl Johnson) and Maureen (Marlene Sidaway).
And then there’s Michael (Peter Mullan). I’ve only ever seen Mullan play tough nuts, bad guys or Swanney (aka Mother Superior, on the account of the length of his habit, in Trainspotting) before, so his portrayal of Michael is a real revelation to me. Michael clearly is clearly smitten with Cathy, is forever popping round to do jobs for her in the hope that she’ll notice him in “that way”, never able to tell her that he has feelings for fear of ruining their friendship. Every time he is interrupted by someone else walking into the room when he’s alone with Cathy, who can see in his eyes the inner torment that’s raging.
It’s this relationship which forms the heart of the show, a “will they/won’t they” scenario that you’re genuinely hoping will end positively, even though you know that will almost definitely spell the end of the programme.
Often with the show, it’s not about what is said, it’s the silences, the nuances, the looks between the characters that really makes Mum so wonderful. It’s like a funny Pinter play. I can’t speak highly enough of it, so if you haven’t done so yet, check it out on the BBC iPlayer whilst you still can. Suffice it to say, if you loved Detectorists – and if you didn’t then we can never really be friends – then chances are you’ll also love Mum.
Oh, and then there’s the theme tune, a revival of the 1931 Carter Family song “When I’m Gone”, which, depending on which corner of the internet you look, is either called “You’re Gonna Miss Me”, “Cups”, “When I’m Gone”, “Cups (You’re Gonna Miss Me)” or “You’re Gonna Miss Me (Cups)” and so on and so forth. What is not up for debate is that it’s by Lulu and the Lampshades, and the “Cups” refers to the method of percussion used in their interpretation, but I’m pretty sure I can hear some claps and clicks in there too: