Don’t Forget The Driver has blazed the trail for just one thing – you don’t often get a 30-minute comedy in a cinemascope 2.35:1-style ratio. And that’s all that surprised me in this incredibly limp new ‘comedy’ starring the prolific Toby Jones.
As Peter Green (and, occasionally, his Australian brother Barry, via webcam), he just sems to drift from one scene to another, so unlike the trailer’s impression, this is not solely focused on him when he’s in the coach driver seat.
In taking some pensioners to Dunkirk, one of the old dears falls asleep, and whilst in Calais, he sends some illegal immigrants packing, who want a lift, as they hammer the window as the coach drives off.
There is a moment which happens which I will not spoil, as it took me by surprise. Not sure whether it’ll be part of an ongoing story arc, but it did look like one of those random moments in life which cannot be explained, and which pass by so quickly that you can’t even process what happened – except when you see it on TV and are able to rewind it, of course.
However, it didn’t stop this programme from being one of the most disappointing 30 minutes I have spent in front of the TV (well, if you don’t count Martin Clunes’ Warren). There are six episodes and I might just try a second to see if it improves, as sometimes it can. One on its own is like a date, and they can either go well or badly… and if they went badly, there might have been mitigating factors that led to this.
Where does the title come into it? He drives coach groups about, but still expects a tip, hence a basket up at the front, marked “Don’t forget the driver”. I suggest you DO forget him, as there is nothing new to see here.
And to think the low point of his career, to date, was the Dad’s Army reboot…
UPDATE: Episode 2 was slightly more interesting. Now this update is coming after episode 1 was broadcast, we know that Peter found a stowaway onboard, and I could see from an article last Wednesday in the Metro, that they had a picture of the two of them sat next to each other, so I guessed from that, that she will become a major fixture throughout the series, so it was obvious she would come back for episode 2.
Meanwhile, it fills in more ‘plot’ with the other tertiary characters – his daughter, mum and girlfriend.
Since it’s shot in 2.35:1, it at least uses it for a cinematic look, even if it is for an early shot of opening a side door, but you’ll have to watch to see why.
Then, once I got to the end… hmm… am I being drawn into this? I could well be…
UPDATE on the rest of the series which I’ve now seen. Obviously, no spoilers, but upon watching episode 3, I think the problem with this was that it was initially sold as a comedy. It’s not. It’s mostly a drama with occasional humourous moments. Here, we saw his burgeoning romance (of sorts) with Fran, looked at him try to figure out just what to do about his new-found friend?
In episode 4, we see Peter practicing his Japanese for some tourists, repeating “Konichiwa” over and over… until he meets them, and just mumbles “Alright”
Episode 5 features the great Perry Benson (Mum and Dad) who has a cameo as a coach passenger, and when I got to the finale, I thought after the first episode that I wouldn’t ever get to this point, but I saw something in episode 2, and then it improved in No.3, and stayed that way. I could now go another series of this.
Don’t Forget The Driver begins tonight on BBC2 at 10pm. The series is not yet available to pre-order on either Blu-ray or DVD.
You can watch each episode on BBC iPlayer for 30 days after transmission.
Episode 1 Score: 1/10
Episode 2 Score: 4/10
Episode 3 Score: 8/10
Episode 4 Score: 8/10
Episode 5 Score: 8/10
Episode 6 Score: 8/10
Director: Tim Kirkby
Writer: Tim Crouch
Peter Green/Barry Green: Toby Jones
Fran: Claire Rushbrook
Joy: Marcia Warren
Squeaky Dave: Danny Kirrane
Kayla: Erin Kellyman
Rita: Luwam Teklizgi
Brad: Jo Eaton-Kent
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.