Social interaction can be tricky, can’t it? All that trying not to put your foot in it, being overly polite and attempting to appear as normal as possible to the outside world. Well, with neighbours it’s even worse. You share the same bit of cracked pavement, breathe in the same air, pat each other’s dogs – but that doesn’t mean you’re actually going to like each other.
New BBC2 sitcom Two Doors Down, written by Simon Carlyle and Gregor Sharp, plays on the tension that arises when neighbours socialise. And boy, is there a lot of it in this Glasgow street. Based on a 2013 pilot about an Abigail’s Party-style Hogmanay event, the comedy is back but as quite a different show with some of the same cast and lots of new faces, too.
Smack the Pony’s Doon Makichan stars as the hilarious Cathy, a terrible snob with a penchant for gallons of wine and backhanded compliments, taking any chance to get one up on her neighbour Beth (Arabella Weir). When Beth’s husband Eric (Alex Norton) leaves the freezer door open all night and is left with a sea of soggy lamb legs and oven chips, Cathy says “See, if that was me I’d be devastated. Obviously your stuff’s not as dear, but even still.”
There are even more classic lines from hypochondriac neighbour Christine (Elaine C Smith) who thrives on drama, even if it’s just said freezer door being left open all night. She tells everyone, and I mean everyone, about her bladder, her foot sores, her daughter’s wind, her dodgy leg. You name it, she’s got it, and her long-suffering teenage daughter Sophie (My Mad Fat Diary’s Sharon Rooney) spends her days ferrying her to appointments with every medical professional in Glasgow.
There’s a really nice dynamic between Beth’s son Ian (Bluestone 42’s Jamie Quinn) and his wide-eyed, sweet and slightly goofy boyfriend Jaz (Doctor Who’s Harki Bhambra), who are constantly navigating the madness of family and, of course, the neighbours who keep dropping in. When Jaz asks if they should take anything to his mum’s, Ian replies darkly, “some earplugs and a bottle of Gaviscon”. He’s not wrong. And when Christine, who has a very broken social filter, meets Jaz she says, “oh so you’re Ian’s gay lover! Have you ever been to the Algarve? Beautiful beaches but very badly served when it comes to 24 hour chiropodists.”
It’s wise to be gentle with new comedy, and this offering is certainly gentle. It might not have you in hysterics from the off, but it’s got some very funny one-liners, well-drawn characters and stellar acting. It’s worth sticking with, not least for Cathy’s thinly veiled put-downs which get even more outrageous as the series goes on.
Above all, Two Doors Down will make you appreciate those slightly annoying neighbours who share your street…
Kasia is a TV, film and arts journalist who writes news, feautures and comment. She spends a lot of time feeling nostalgic about 90s American films and working her way back through the Desert Island Discs archive.