Cradle To Grave Episode 1 – The DVDfever Review


Cradle to Grave is set in the 1970s, recalling Danny Baker‘s childhood having been based on his autobiography “Going To Sea In A Sieve”, starting off with the man, himself, narrating, but it soon changed to the voice of Laurie Kynaston playing his young self, and with a theme by Squeeze.

His father, Fred (Peter Kay) was a regular Arthur Daley, before Arthur Daley appeared on our screens, wheeling and dealing in all kinda of items which either were or weren’t quick to shift. He worked on the docks but always found a way to make a quick quid or three, shown early on mistaking a tub of booze for a tub of embalming fluid, complete with corpse inside. Oh, please rush me to A&E as my sides have split.

Elsewhere, we had Danny’s friend Martin (Ross McCormack) borrowing turquoise and gold trousers from a friend to ask out Amanda Bold – gold, Bold… yes, a bit of rhyming filled the place where a plot normally resides. Well, until an accident in an abandoned house left him dead. Naturally, Martin was buried in them. You could see that coming a mile off, just like every other attempted joke/comic turn in this programme.

There was also a TV attempted to be repossessed by Radio Rentals – yes, in the olden days we *rented* television sets! And houses also had upstairs rooms where there was a clear pane of glass above the doorway. I’ve still got this above one room in my 100-year-old house. Why on earth was this ever a thing?? Aside from that, we were treated to other tales recounted from the ’70s in exactly the same way we’ve had told a zilion times.


Laurie Kynaston (front-centre) with the rest of the cast.

For all the hype this has had, mostly based around the labourious appearance of one-trick-pony Peter Kay – and I’m sure there’s a zillion better other people than he who could’ve been picked for the role of Danny’s sweary, shouty father, Fred – this programme lurched from one random topic in Baker’s life to another, with nothing really gelling.

On the plus side, we had a few great tunes from the era, such as Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water and The Who’s Baba O’Reilly; and there was Alexa Davies, as Danny’s girlfriend Yvonne. Alexa was the only decent aspect of Channel 4’s Raised By Wolves, written by Caitlin “Hey, look at me, I had a child at 15 so that makes me cool!” Moran, who also spilled her life onto the screen in the similarly vain hope that anyone would find it remotely interesting. And yes, that really is her middle name.

There is a way to do ’70s family coming-of-age comedy drama, of which a reasonable fist was made with 2010’s Cemetery Junction, even though it was spoiled by also having a ubiquitous individual playing the heavy-handed father role, that time being co-writer/director Ricky Gervais.

Cradle To Grave, part of BBC2’s badly-named “comedy hour”, paired with Boy Meets Girl, continues next Thursday at 9pm. You can watch episode 1 on the BBC iPlayer.

Cradle To Grave Series 1 is released on DVD on October 26th. You can also pre-order Squeeze‘s new album, Cradle To The Grave, on CD, songs from which will feature in the series. Also, click on the packshot for the full-size image.


Peter Kay and the real Danny Baker.

Overall: 3/10

Director: Sandy Johnson
Producer: Kate Crowther
Screenplay: Danny Baker and Jeff Pope

Fred Baker: Peter Kay
Bet Baker: Lucy Speed
Danny Baker: Laurie Kynaston
Sharon Baker: Alice Sykes
Michael Baker: Frankie Wilson
Yvonne: Alexa Davies
Miss Blondel: Julie Dray
Alfie: Simon Sherlock
Paul Fennell: Sam Melvin
Bermondsey Barmaid: Margaret Wheldon
Colin: Theo Barklem-Biggs
Radio Rentals Man: David Boyle
Lil: Laura Checkley
Teddy: Ashley Cousins
Tommy: Brian Fletcher
Philip: Frankie Fox
Terry: Ronnie Fox
Soapy: Martin Hancock
Ivy Tullock: Tina Harris
Trevor: Luke Higgins
Amanda: Star Jones
Martin’s Auntie: Eliza Kempson
Martin: Ross McCormack
Lenny: Jack O’Connor
Ernie: Jay Simpson
Norman: James Doherty
Ruby: Rebecca Gethings