Is it bad to admit publicly that I want to hang out with Bernard Black, Manny Bianco and Fran Katzenjammer? Too late now, I guess. But, as the central figures of the Black Books series co-created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan, their general disdain for the outside world is oddly intriguing with Black, quite frequently, being openly hostile towards his customers. He actively avoids having to interact with anyone and displays very little interest in the retail world that he is a part of.
While the idea for the decidedly three-dimensional character (drinking, smoking and reading) came from the genius minds of Moran and Linehan, what many British situation comedy fans may not remember is that Dylan Moran got his first major television role several years prior to Black Books in a series called, How Do You Want Me?”
Written by the great Simon Nye (Reggie Perrin, Men Behaving Badly, Just William), How Do You Want Me ran for just two seasons and also starred Charlotte Coleman (Four Weddings and a Funeral), Frank Finlay, Emma Chambers (Vicar of Dibley) and Peter Serafinowicz, who played Howell Granger in Black Books, the radio broadcaster who drove Fran crazy just by reading the shipping forecast.
In How Do You Want Me?, Moran stars as naïve urban man Ian Lyons, who elopes with country girl Lisa Yardley, leaves his job of running a comedy club in London and moves to the village of Snowle, where her unpleasant father (Frank Finlay) breeds turkeys. He and most of Lisa’s family take an immediate dislike to Ian, and much of the comedy comes from how Ian copes with life with her family and village life in general. Life is also complicated by Lisa’s ex-boyfriend Derek, who still holds a candle for her. Ian first realizes the extent of the family’s dislike for him when he discovers Lisa’s mother cutting him out of the wedding pictures at the end of the first episode….a wedding that was a staged event arranged by Lisa’s family due to their unhappiness at them eloping and marrying abroad prior to the series starting.
How Do You Want Me?, episode 1, part 1
How Do You Want Me?, episode 1, part 2
How Do You Want Me?, episode 1, part 3
It’s definitely not Black Books and I still want to hang out with Bernard, Manny and Fran some day but, having seen a couple of episodes, it’s worth the time if you can find this 1998 series.