Sally4Ever gives us Catherine Shepherd (above-centre) as Sally, a woman in her early 40s who’s trapped in a 10-year relationship from which she should have long since escaped. She feels pressured into marriage, and really needs a massive change in her life, and that’s what is coming soon in the form of Emma (Julia Davis, above right).
It’s high time that Ms Shepherd had the lead in a series. She’s been in many things, but the role which stands out for me is as April, in Peep Show. Mark (David Mitchell) was obsessed with her, and the episode where they first meet, while she’s at University, and the bizarre concoction of lies, which leads to him leaving while she thinks they’ll be together at the end of the day, was one of the most heart-rendering things I’ve ever seen in a sitcom. Plus, she also returned in the final series.
Here, she’s constantly being belittled by her mum in the opening sequence, about how she should make do with her fiancee because she won’t find anyone else at her age and “You’ve got a limited number of eggs… they’re dropping out every month… and they lose quality the older you get”, but then who wouldn’t want a man who sits in the lounge and lets you watch as he moisturises his feet?? (Yes, it’s as gross as it sounds), he gets overly excited about Sally getting married in his mother’s wedding dress, and who follows it all up later in bed with…
- David (Alexander Macqueen – The Thick Of It) (sounding hopeful): “I thought… we could have some… intercourse?”
Sally (sounding bored): “I think I’m fine(!)”
Sally4Ever features so many people from a great number of shows I’ve enjoyed over the years, including Steve Oram (Sightseers), Julian Barratt (Mindhorn, A Field in England), and David Cann (Brass Eye – including in separate sketches when he married himself, and also attended his own funeral whilst still alive), and it’s also writen by Julia Davis (Nighty Night).
At her workplace (and I’ll just give the actors’ names here), Felicity Montagu (I’m Alan Partridge) is convinced having a boiled egg each morning makes your boobs grow, while Steve Oram thinks his pheromones work well because they repel women rather than attract(!)
This comedy also highlights the problem of having work colleagues on your Facebook friends list. I, personally, think it’s good to keep those elements of life separate from each other. After all, do you really need to hear if Jimmy and Sharon are doing the do like everyone thinks? I didn’t need to know that even during the working day as I was kinda busy…. doing work! Yeah, novel for some people, I know.
However, I won’t just list a whole load of quotes from the episode because that would negate the point of watching it, and it would take longer to type them out than the duration of the show.
As an aside, I’ll say that it’s a bit odd that a comedy is being filmed in a cinemascope-style ratio, but it does work with this
There’s also a near-finale – set to T’Pau’s China In Your Hand – with two contrasting situations, which has to be seen to be believed. I’m not going to detail anything about it here because it’s easily one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a TV comedy this year.
Music also comes in the form of selections from a number of great tracks including dancefloor favourite Robin S – Show Me Love, and Metronomy’s The Look as the opening theme, which in the last third, has an ’80s sound, and is the type of song which makes you glad you’re alive.
It’s the sort of comedy where a situation will be described in one sentence by someone, who’ll say what you think is the complete sentence, the content of which makes you laugh, then a bit more of it, which makes you laugh again, and then some more which usually creases me up the more it goes on.
I absolutely loved the first series of Nighty Night. For some reason, the second series really went off in a different direction and never gelled with me. I missed 2016’s Camping, although I understand it’s been remade as a US sitcom this year; but if you want a way to really come back with a big bang, then Sally4Ever is the way, and I can’t wait to see more… although I’ll have to, as it’s a weekly show, and that’s how time works.
In short, with a fantastic script, with all performances are all on-point with perfect comic timing, this opener was everything I was looking forward to – but certainly lots of things I wasn’t expecting in there, and I highly recommend it.
Now something really odd. The original premiere time for this was tonight at 10pm on Sky Atlantic, but…it premiered at 2am! I know Julia Davis is known for the unpredictable, but I never could have predicted that! The only time you might expect something like that is if it’s a Game Of Thrones season premiere, for example, and Sky want to mirror the US premier time, although they would also show it in primetime for those who aren’t up at silly o’clock.
The only UK programme I’ve come across which regularly premieres during the night is BBC’s tech show, Click. They have to show it in full on BBC News before it can go on the iPlayer, but when it premiered around 11.30am on a Saturday morning, it would sometimes get bumped by ‘breaking news’ (which wasn’t always breaking, or sometimes, wasn’t really news). One weekend, despite it having several intended broadcasts including 3.30pm on both Saturday and Sunday, ALL of them were interrupted by news, so it never went on the iPlayer. They could still put the individual reports on their website, but still, it was an odd situation. Hence, now, it premieres at 1.30am on a Friday night/Saturday morning, and rarely gets interrupted.
Hence, while I have to confirm the official start time in a byline below, I can’t *not* mention the above fact. However, it’s happened, whether it’s by Ms Davis’ insistence, or someone’s scheduling error, I think it’s so cool.
Sally4Ever on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV from 25th October at 10pm.
Sally4Ever will air weekly and is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Episode 1: 10/10
Director: Julia Davis
Writer: Julia Davis
Sally: Catherine Shepherd
Emma: Julia Davis
David: Alex Macqueen
Pat: Georgie Glen
Belinda: Vicki Pepperdine
Kate: Robin Weaver
Kemima: Lucy Trodd
Susan: Jill Buchanan
Dan: Seb Cardinal
Mark: Nick Mohammed
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.