There does seem to be a bounty of comedies on TV at the moment, particularly on the BBC. Whether this is part of their ‘we are too valuable to destroy’ strategy, or merely a happy coincidence, I don’t know. Still, let’s not complain.

One that is shining through is Mum, a low-key sitcom about a middle-aged woman’s first year as a widow. As such, it is a rather sweet, understated affair, with the humour drawn from the juxtaposition of someone who is normal and balanced being surrounded by comic monsters. This includes her dopey son, his even more dim-witted girlfriend, a snobbish new partner for her brother, and rude in-laws and other hangers on.

Not that all of the above are actually monsters – the son and his girlfriend may be idiots but there is some heart to them, even if there insight into how ‘Mum’ feels is irregular and fleeting. Lisa McGrillis as the girlfriend (Kelly) is a gem. Episode 3 saw her mother descend, and suddenly a whole new level to Kelly’s character emerges. She is idiotic because she has been treated like one her whole life, her frail self-esteem hidden protected by telling blunt truths and self-absorption.

Pauline, on the other hand, is a monster. She despairs of this new extended family she has found herself in. Her millionaire ex-husband gave her the world materially but betrayed her emotionally. Despite the obvious pain, there is clearly part of her that would give up the love of a decent bloke to fly round in a helicopter again and have her old social circle back. She is lonely, but doesn’t want to let anyone around her in alleviate it.

At the centre of it are the Mum (Lesley Manville) and her late husband’s best friend (Peter Mullan). It is inevitable that there is a will they/won’t they dynamic between the two – he deeply in love with her, she clueless to it all. In her defence, she has enough on dealing with the emotional crises of others, without her being indulgent to have one herself. Her grief has been a quiet one, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been expressed.

There is a simple joy in it all. Long-term storylines bubble away nicely while the individual set up for each episode plays out. It is a quiet, sweet little programme. It will probably be ignored come award season, but that’s fine, we don’t want the hipsters and fly-by fans watching it anyway. It is our little secret, and a beautiful one at that.

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