Cath finally stands up to Jill and throws her out of their house. Jill carries on with her husband Terry's funeral, while he remains bored in the hospice. Jill persuades Glenn, her blind date, to pay...
(The following review was originally published 20 Jan 2004 as the first review of this title to appear here. Deleted after a user request, it has been edited and re-submitted.)
"Nighty Night" details the life and loves of the most self-absorbed woman on earth, Jill Farrell, played by series creator Julia Davis. In the first scene she sits in the hospital with her husband Terry (the surprisingly normal Kevin Eldon) and they have just been told the test results. She bewails her fate, crying "Why does everything have to happen to *me*!" Her husband turns to her, comfortingly, and says, "Look love, it'll be OK. It's really not that bad. It is ME who's got the cancer!" In the second scene she is at a computer dating service. Not content with whoever they may come up with for Jill to go out with between hospital visits, she also sets her sights on neighbour Don, (Angus Deayton), a doctor whose wife, Cathy (Rebecca Front), is a victim of Multiple Sclerosis.
Davis has specialised in playing these kinds of women in recent years, most notably in Rob Brydon's "Human Remains" and Chris Morris's "Jam". Jill is all entirely her own work and she has really plumbed the depths of the human psyche to create a woman who cares for nothing and nobody but herself, to a psychotic degree. Instead of "Nighty Night" perhaps the programme should have been called "Nicely Nice", because it is people's niceness, or at least their desire that things remain nice, that allows Jill to get away with the most appalling insensitivity and self-regard.
The characterisation of Jill is perfectly done, as are the characterisations of the other people, from poor confused Terry (not realising that he isn't getting any visitors because Jill told everyone he'd already died), Don who is caring for Cathy, but obviously doesn't really "care" for her any more. Particularly brilliant is Rebecca Front's performance as Cathy, caught between dissatisfaction with her straying husband, outrage at Jill's antics but paralysed - not just physically - by her inability to make a fuss. These are fantastically well observed. Other characters, such as Stefan, Jill's putative blind date, and Linda the asthmatic girl in Jill's beauty salon who loves to massage feet, are more exaggerated but well performed.
This is not laugh-a-minute hysterical comedy by any means, but continues the uncomfortable black comedy trend hinted at by Steve Coogan's characters, and more wilfully pursued by Chris Morris and Rob Brydon (with all of whom Julia Davis has previously acted.)
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