Hidden at the bottom of Chortle today –and as far as we can make out unreported elsewhere on the web- is the announcement of a 9th series of My Family. Ninth? That’s…that’s….loads. That’s over taking Fools and Horses in standard episodes.
My Family baffles us. Is there anyone alive who actually rings it in the Radio Times, takes the phone off the hook, makes a nice cup of tea and settles down to half-hour of Harper family fun? Does anyone have My Family DVD marathons? It’s difficult to imagine, but somehow it’s been hogging the prime-time-limelight for the best part of a decade.
Thing is, when My Family first cropped up it wasn’t all that bad. It’s always nice to see Wolfy Smith back on the box, pre-BT Kris Marshall was a welcome addition to telly-land – we remember him getting laughs just for walking on screen in Love Actually- and the more Daniela Denby-Ashe the better as far as we’re concerned. It was a bit silly, had a classic farce-sitcom format that had been absent for a while, was reasonably well written and wiled away a half hour fairly amicably.
Eight years on and the scripts have got so hackneyed the principles are actually refusing to shoot them. This is Zoe Wanamaker talking to the Telegraph in March, 2007:
“What attracted me to the first scripts was that they had a slightly quirky, American Jewish quality to them. That's my humour. Critics absolutely hated it. The public liked it. But it's turned into a machine. Robert and I even refused at one point to do one, it was so bad. That caused a lot of problems, but we just felt it was not good enough. We had practically a football team of scriptwriters working on the last series”
But still they soldiered on, not-laughing all the way to the bank. And someone must have watched it, because here we are with a ninth successive outing. What else is there for the Harper family to do? They pole-vaulted the shark several years ago, none of the cast are really bothered anymore (Robert Lynsey and Zoe Wanamaker are established thesps, while your phone bill keeps Kris Marshall in moose for his lovely floppy fringe. Gabriel Thompson just sits there, glumly waiting for Daniel Radcliffe to be killed in a fire), it’s a flogged-out cash cow, cowering in the farmers yard waiting for the tragic inevitability/blessed relief found inside a metaphorical dog food tin.