The family/domestic sitcom is perhaps one of the hardest to get right. Citizen Khan and Mrs Brown’s Boys are both divisive due to their broad humour and laughter track (I concede that I don’t know if the laughter is recorded live or dubbed in), yet garner millions of viewers.

Then there’s the other type of family sitcom – the more understated kind, led by Gavin and Stacey. These are even harder to get right. For example, a lot of the humour is generated from side characters’ eccentricities, such as Nessa’s outlandish life stories told as deadpan as possible, or Bryn’s camp obsessions. Get it right, as G&S did, you have characters who become beloved and provide a good counterweight. Get it wrong, and you veer towards the cartoonish and unbelievable. A good example of this was Dot in Hebburn, a nasty, prickly character, who we were supposed to be charmed by because she was old.

So kudos to the team behind Two Doors Down for getting it right. The lead characters of Beth and Eric, played by Arabella Weir and Alex Norton, are gleefully underplayed, allowing them to be a pool of sanity. The counterbalance is provided by two very different neighbours: the coarse and slovenly Christine, and the snobbish and self-centred Cathy. Both of them are human whirlpools, but are also utterly believable.

The second episode of the series was a good example of this. Starting off with the collapse of Christine’s ceiling, the layers of the episode built until more and more people find themselves under Beth’s and Eric’s roof, as they are too nice to say no. I won’t give away the ending, but the episode comes nicely full circle as the farce level slowly rises.

I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions, which is quite a feat. The humour wasn’t black-hearted or cruel, but nor was it overly gentle (there was a lot of talk of wanking and teenage sex). It put me in mind a lot of Friday Night Dinner, another show that pitched itself perfectly. It’s not revolutionary, and I fully expect it to be overlooked by the BAFTA’s next year, but it is damn good at putting a smile on my face. It even made my mum laugh, which she rarely does at sitcoms. O

Of course, I could have got lucky. I only saw one episode and the real test will be if I still find it funny in two or three weeks’ time, when the characters are more familiar and predictable. But the fact I want to watch it again means it passed the first test. Precious few even do that.

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