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DVD Review


Joking Apart
The Complete Second Series


Starring: Robert Bathurst and Fiona Giles
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 17 March 2008

Mark and Becky meet at a funeral. Like most couples they fall in love and get married, unfortunately like many couples one of them falls out of love with the inevitable consequences, as Mark keeps telling the audience: "My wife left me." But that was six months ago and whilst Becky has tried to move on Mark is still obsessed by his ex-wife...

Joking Apart: Series Two (1995) was written by Steven Moffat, produced by Andre Plaszynski and directed by Robert Spiers. It picks up the story from Series One with Mark and Becky still separated. Mark has gone from hating her friends, Tracy and Robert, to relying on them quite heavily - a situation, which gets out of hand. The show won the Bronze Rose at the 1995 Rose d’Or Light Entertainment Festival, but even this was not enough to stop it being cancelled after the second series.

For the second series the format was changed, unfortunately the stand-up routine remained, but much of the flashbacks were gone and the show followed a more linear path in its story telling. That said, it still remained extremely funny and absurd.

The original cast returned to their roles Mark (Robert Bathurst), Becky (Fiona Gillies), Tracy (Tracie Bennet) Robert (Paul Raffield) and Trevor (Paul-Mark Elliott) and fall back into their characters as if they have never been away. There are some minor changes to the characters, six months have passed and Becky is having second thoughts about Trevor and in fact ends up cheating on the man with whom she first cheated on her husband. Mark continues to get into ridiculous situations, usually from good motives.

The characters which change the most are Tracy and Robert. Although they appear to be sexually naïve they have a child, though the child is never seen only alluded to. Robert suffers a sexual crisis after he finds out that Tracy and Mark have slept together, though he is dim enough to only half disbelieve this and embarks on a sexual odyssey which sees him visiting prostitutes to be humiliated and even cross dressing.

There are some minor characters added to the ensemble as Mark gets an Aunt and an attractive new neighbour as well as talking genitalia and Becky gets a new lover.

The second series DVD set fairs even better than series one for extras. For a start every single episode has a commentary. You get a complete set of scripts for each of the six episodes in PDF format as well as a PDF copy of In the Studio, an article which gives an account of the recording of the last episode, written by one of the audience. It originally appeared in the fanzine Breakfast At Czar’s. Also on the second DVD is the 1991 pilot episode, which for all intents is the same as the broadcast first show. The two-disc set also comes with a nicely informative booklet. The show is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio with a digitally restored picture.

The quality of the writing remains just as high for the second series, making this a must see television comedy. If you missed it the first time round do yourself a favour and catch up with Joking Apart.


Charles Packer

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