The Kennedys – TV Review

Cradle to Grave, Danny and the Human Zoo, Raised by Wolves, TVs across the land are currently awash with stomach-churning wallpaper, loose morals and hair big enough to block out the sun as an increasing number of writers take a rose-tinted look back at their childhoods in the 70s.

Memoirist Emma Kennedy is the latest to upcycle her childhood memories for nostalgic laughs with The Kennedys (BBC1, Fridays, 9:30pm), a warm if unremarkable sitcom loosely based on her eccentric experiences growing up on a Stevenage council estate.

Lucy Hutchinson stars as a 10-year-old Emma, who is bizarrely happy to tag along with her aspirational parents, Katherine Parkinson’s Brenda and Dan Skinner’s Tony, as they embark on hair-brained schemes to scale the social ladder of their new middle-class community.

In last night’s series opener, the Kennedy clan become obsessed with the latest social phenomenon to sweep the nation: the dinner party. “It’s a bit like Christmas but with none of the relations you’re not that keen on,” Brenda helpfully explains.

As Tony and Emma try to master the art of the lasagne (“It’s pasta but not in a tin,” you know?), their party plans are scuppered when they’re forced to cover up the infidelity of their drunken neighbour – which becomes an even greater challenge when his jilted lover comes clambering over the garden fence intent on crashing the party.

As you’ll no doubt expect, events quickly descend into the daftest of farce, with Kennedy, who here adapts her own memoir The Tent, the Bucket and Me for the screen, fully embracing that British trait of revelling in minor disasters.

The jokes don’t always live up to their promise and the characters lack the depth and staying power of similar sitcoms, but the Kennedys are a sweet, silly and thouroughly pleasant bunch to spend time with, like reconnecting with a long-lost friend.

Click here to watch The Kennedys on BBC iPlayer

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