Marianne Hope suffers at the hands of paparazzi after a celebrity relationship break-up. After a spell in rehab, she and manager Tony set up a sanctuary which attracts the likes of Elsie: a sex-obsessed OAP and Terry: a drug-addled DJ.

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Marianne Hope suffers at the hands of paparazzi after a celebrity relationship break-up. After a spell in rehab, she and manager Tony set up a sanctuary which attracts the likes of Elsie: a sex-obsessed OAP and Terry: a drug-addled DJ.

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14 February 2007 (UK)  »

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Pilot: An unfunny comedy that doesn't seem sure of its own tone and doesn't do anything as a result
10 March 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Having broken up with her Slyce band member and husband, Marianne goes into rehab and is so taken by it that, after her own recovery, she decides to open up The Abbey for fellow celebrities. However her doctor is a vet and partner Tony is trying to run the business like a hotel and putting the word out about it. Meanwhile the first group through the door comprises a bulimic model, a politician's wife, a drug addicted DJ and an elderly sex addict.

I review the pilot of this series because I am not sure if it will actually get a life much beyond this 25 minute outing. Shown on ITV after the Brit Awards 2007 and thus sitting in a very strong primetime slot. Despite this it only started with 2.1 million viewers (not a failure for sure, but hardly impressive for such a slot on one of the UK's biggest channels) and lost 300,000 viewers before it ended – hardly a strong base to launch a new comedy. Of course a weaker base is forgetting to put laughs into it, something that this pilot managed to forget as well.

It is a problem of tone I think because the addictions and such are not played for laughs but rather delivered in this uneasy mix of being serious but also being silly at the same time. This uncertainty over itself feeds through to the audience and I wondered if I was meant to be getting into the characters, laughing at them or what? The answers are never forth coming but, most noticeably, the laughs are never there anyway. It isn't that the jokes are poor, it is that they are totally absent – there didn't seem to be much here that was intended (successful or not) to make me laugh.

The cast struggled without this help. Banks is a simple rock chick spoof who does nothing with her character. Having Pellow play her husband was a simple rehab joke that wasn't helped by how stiff and unconvincing he was even with his few lines. Likewise Brand is an in-joke but given nothing to do with it. He is at least restrained from his usual "up his own *rse" personae but he is still not much cop. Djalili is amusing but is given some weak stuff to do while Liz Smith is just given a horny granny character and left to it.

Overall then, an unfunny comedy that doesn't seem sure of its own tone and doesn't do anything as a result. A dull affair that might get a series – but I personally won't be giving it any of my time if it does.


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