TV Review: Outnumbered
By Sian Brewis
All things considered, I think I’d rather be bunking up in the jungle with Esther Rantzen and that awful Kilroy than babysit the children in Outnumbered (BBC 1, Saturday, 9.05pm).
In fact, that would make a great bushtucker trial. Five minutes of relentless interrogation by Ramona Marquez and, to paraphrase the immortal line from The Bill, you’d confess to eating Shergar.
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The new series kicked off with the family off to a wedding, where six year old Karen (Ramona) was bridesmaid.
Her witheringly drip-drip-drip torture by questions of the bride-to-be was just fantastic: how many boyfriends has she had? How long has she known her fiance? That’s not very long, is it? Are all her boyfriends there? What about the one who’s friends with the Queen? The one who is a guest of Her Majesty? Why did her mum call her Ulrika?
No wonder the bride was swigging from the bottle at the reception.
I was expecting to loathe it: after all the combination of cute kids and family comedy left me braced for a half hour of the vomit-inducing Kids Say the Funniest Things with canned laughter.
Instead it was an absolute gem: funny, sweet and entirely believable.
Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis play the parents with pitch-perfect quiet desperation, constantly trying to keep their kids under control.
The children improvise their lines – and do a better job than most of the TV comedy writers have managed in recent years. And yes, My Family, I do mean you.
What adult could write this? Brother Ben (the bizarrely named Tyger Drew-Honey) suggestion on how to help when Karen locks herself in the bathroom: "You could put beavers through the window and they would eat the door."
*As viewers of Banged Up Abroad will know, the fun is in shouting: "what were you thinking??" as gormless tourists agree to be drug mules for cash.
In My Holiday Hostage Hell (Virgin1, 9pm) we get to shout, just as entertainingly, at gormless tourists who get kidnapped.
Lucy and Sophie ended a world tour trip in Jaipur, where "confused by crowds" they chose a guide they had never met on the basis that "he spoke English." Doh.
Next thing they knew, they’d been held for three days in a jewellery smuggling racket.
Strange kidnapping though: they put them up a hotel and took them to a restaurant.