There are fewer things that bring unbridled joy into our televisual lives than the perfectly made sitcom. They are rare beasts, but that is a good thing as it means that when one arrives it feels all the more special. Whilst we wait on news on a second series of Raised by Wolves, still making a strong claim in my eyes for sweeping the next British Comedy Awards, Channel 4 has handed to us the equally strong Man Down.

We have had to wait a while for this to return to, although the delay is understandable with the untimely loss of Rik Mayall, who played chief torturer and father to Greg Davies’ lead character. Such was the loss that it was a deep source of worry as to if the next series would still have the same drive without him.

But hurrah! It does! This is due to three factors. The first is the introduction of Stephanie Cole as Aunt Nesta. Whilst the cruelties to Dan are inflicted more accidentally (or at least with a slightly better intention), there is still enough of a sense of this character being a blockade to Dan’s attempts to have a better life for her to work.

The second is that the remaining existing supporting cast are as strong as ever. Mike Wozniak plays bookish, obsessive Mike perfectly (how his car insurance speech hasn’t gone in the cannon of great comedy moments is beyond me), whilst Roisin Conaty is as amazing as ever as chaotic, unemployable yet irrepressible Jo. Conaty, it should be said, has fast become one of my favourite comedians, and I hope her star continues to rise.

The last factor is Greg Davies himself. It is easy to forget that has brilliant as his interplay with Mayall was, it was only for a few minutes each episode, and a great sitcom is not built on this alone. The character of Dan has been, and always should be driving force in this show, which he is. Davies’ bizarre physical energy, reminiscent of Mayall’s, drives the situation. Life’s losers are at the centre of so many comedies, but few are written as large. Or more importantly, as funny.

Advertisements