TV Review: Mum Series 2

A hugely successful return for Stefan Golaszewski’s BBC sitcom Mum, with world-beater Lesley Manville in brilliant form once again

“Three types of potato – are you out of your fucking mind?”

I’m not sure what we’ve done to deserve Stefan Golaszewski’s Mum but I’m sure as hell glad that we have it. The second series of this BBC sitcom has now drawn to a close and it is hard not to think that it isn’t one of the most magnificently perfect bits of television out there, surpassing even the heights of the superlative first season

Starring Lesley Manville and Sam Swainsbury as it does, it could well have been machine-tooled to appeal to my Venn diagram of all Venn diagrams. But Mum is so much more than my varying crushes, it is a supremely well-calibrated piece of heart-breaking and heart-warming writing that finds its humour in that most British of ways, through adversity. Cathy’s husband and Michael’s best friend may have died a year ago but their attempts to move on, to maybe explore their mutual, unspoken attraction are constantly frustrated by the clod-hopping presence of her extended family at every beat.  

Where Mum has been simply masterful is in  never letting us forget the starting point of the story – the death of Cathy’s husband Dave. The way in which Golaszewski explores how grief is never really forgotten, how it lies gently over everything, ready to rear its head at any moment has provided shots of pure, quiet devastation – Karl Johnson’s grumpy Reg reflecting on the sofa, Swainsbury’s Jason’s enduring attachment to his family home, Cathy’s outburst to a rare burst of emotional candour from Michael, a grizzled Peter Mullan doing so very much with every crestfallen look from his soulful eyes.

And there’s just so much subtlety imbued into these crucial interactions. The attempt at serious conversation over the noise of the TV, that hug at the end of episode 5, the marital tenderness midway through episode 6, such richness and depth that only makes the humour hit that much harder when it comes. And what laughs –  the Kate Middleton reference, the dips, pretty much anything Pauline says, the restraint in telling not showing the deckchair incident – I can’t remember the last time a TV show has made me feel this much.

News of a third and final series is a blessing of the highest order, now go catch it on iPlayer while you still can.

Photo: Mark Johnson/BBC/Big Talk Productions

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