When Roger and Val Have Just Got In was first announced back in 2010, hearing that this was to pair Dawn French and Alfred Molina, I immediately felt this to be a series that had enormous potential. With the concept of the show being that it was to follow the lives of a middle-aged couple and their first half hour back home from work, unfortunately, I immediately thought that this will definitely make Seinfeld look like it had a plot. From the outset, Roger and Val, created by Dawn French, was risky comedy….an intelligent series without the benefit either a studio audience or any added canned laughter and recorded in “real time”. A sitcom without gags according to both lead actors. Writers, Beth and Emma Kilcoyne explain how the series came about on the BBC Comedy Blog.
Relying on subtleties where the audience actually has to think as opposed to being hit over the head with the next forced punchline is a scary proposition in this day and age of instant audience gratification with the Internet at their fingertips. Unfortunately, being the first series for Dawn French, post-Vicar of Dibley, the stakes were high as there would be obligatory unfair comparisons to Dibley’s brilliance. After being hammered by the critics from the opening scene where Roger and Val discuss and search for a guarantee form for their hoover, the subtleties of Roger and Val have really begun to kick in with the premiere of series 2.
It’s not a knockdown, laugh-a-minute, sitcom, but it’s brilliantly written and who can argue with Dawn French and Alfred Molina. I stand corrected on my snap decision prior to seeing the series. Thankfully, the BBC didn’t make the same snap decision and didn’t look at reviews or lower than desired audience figures and gave it a second series, which is currently running on BBC Two.