On paper, Miranda sounds ghastly. It’s shot on bright, unrealistic sets in front of a hooting studio audience. The lead mugs shamelessly for the camera, falls over a lot, makes feeble jokes and is surrounded by broad, stereotypical characters.
There are catchphrases. It even ends with the cast waving as credits read, “You have been watching...” In these days of star-powered meta-sitcoms like Extras, or the cutting-edge satire of The Thick Of It, there’s surely no room for such outdated nonsense.
And yet Miranda is brilliant. It’s a laughout- loud smash, coming to DVD as a critical and ratings hit, festooned with awards and with a second series imminently hitting screens.
After showy supporting turns in Lee Mack’s one-liner-laden Not Going Out and the not-excellent Hyperdrive with Nick Frost, this eponymous show is star Miranda Hart’s moment in the spotlight.
And it’s her comic timing, sense of physical comedy (she falls over a lot, but you try doing that and making it funnier each time...) and sheer, industrial-strength likeability that make this show the success it is.
It’s a simple enough story of a woman the wrong side of 30 who’s single, fancies the chef in the bistro next door, has an annoying mother and, yes, often falls over, but among the fourth-wallbreaking winks to camera and general buffoonery, there are moments of harsh autobiographical detail which give the series surprising emotional depth.
When, in the first episode, 6’1” Hart is addressed by a courier as “Sir”, you get the feeling that’s actually happened to her and wonder what it must feel like. One also suspects her school nickname might have been ‘Queen Kong’ in real life, too...
Like all the best sitcoms, the episodes are well-constructed enough to have great re-watch value and the supporting and guest cast are an A-team of small-screen talent, from Patricia Hodge (“Such fun!” as Miranda’s exasperating Mother) and Smack The Pony’s Sally Phillips to, in one episode, a wonderfully slimy performance from early-’80s Doctor Who star Peter Davison.
Such a shame, then, that the extras are so feeble. No commentaries, just three minutes of outtakes and a five-minute Making Of and set tour. The ‘Introducing The Cast’ featurette, shot in the studio as the stars greet the audience before taping begins, is interesting and different, but ends after a measly few minutes.
Must do better, Miranda!
The ‘extras’ barely merit the word, but Miranda itself is a morethan- the-sum-of-its-parts keeper. Such fun!