TV Review: Big Boys (Series 2)

Series 2 of Jack Rooke’s Big Boys widens its scope to become more of an ensemble show to great effect

“You leave my mum’s pot pourri out of it”

The beating heart of the first series of Big Boys was the growing friendship between Jack and Danny. Perhaps an unlikely pairing at first, its emotional integrity was a sheer delight to behold as their unconventional first year at university pushed them together, forcing each to wrestle with the ongoing major issues in their lives – Jack’s grief at losing his father and navigating the first steps of coming out, Danny’s difficulties in managing his mental health.

As weighty as that may seem, Big Boys is still scabrously funny, a hugely effective comedy at its core. And this second series ups the ante by spreading its focus on the wider group surrounding the pair, blood family and chosen family alike, and giving some excellent actors the chance to really explore their excellently written characters as Jack and Danny move onto their second year at Brent University yet somehow still remain in their shed of a residence.

Harriet Webb’s Cousin Shannon ends up the closest to centre stage as her unexpected pregnancy gets threaded through the series. She’s such a great character, daft, gobby and determined in the same breath and increasingly emotionally profound. The final episode is gorgeously constructed in this respect as her giving birth is overlayed with the last time this family was in this hospital, at the time of Jack’s father’s death, a poignant reckoning fated for them all.

Annette Badland’s Nanny Bingo is also outstanding here, the previous focus on Jack having lost his father ceding way to touching on what it is like for a mother to lose a son. And as Camille Coduri’s Peggy dares to dream of life beyond just being a widow, her ventures into the world of online dating are sweetly drawn. The contrast to Danny’s family, as Sheila Reid’s granny Iris slips away to dementia and his estranged father Dennis (Marc Warren) who pops up to remind him just why they’re estranged is stark.

Jon Pointing’s Danny and Dylan Llewellyn’s Jack remain delightful though, surrounded by pals and their vivid adventures. Izuka Hoyle’s Corinne letting her hair down and Olisa Odele’s Yemi letting it all out but each learning how to be there for their friends, reinforcing how the power of a chosen family is the very nature of its inclusivity. Sexy lecturer Tim (Robert Gilbert) remains smoking, Katy Wix’s Jules is hilarious once again and there’s a gloriously meta ending to the whole thing that wraps it up perfectly.

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