There are a ton of excellent sitcoms just about to arrive on our screens (Derry Girls and Fleabag are back! Hurrah!), but we have one more recommendation to add to your watch list: Channel 4’s Home.
The half-hour comedy kicks off when a Syrian refugee named Sami (Youseff Kerkour) emerges from the car boot of a family of holidaymakers to find himself in suburban Dorking, outside the home of Katy (Rebekah Staton), her new boyfriend Peter (Rufus Jones) and son John (Oaklee Pendergast). Surprise!
Having crammed himself into the boot when the car stopped at a petrol station in Calais, Sami has arrived in the UK as an asylum seeker. But what will happen when Katy decides to invite him into the family home?
One might worry that a comedy drama about an asylum seeker might be ‘worthy’ or mawkish or (to be honest) just plain offensive, but Rufus Jones’ excellent script strikes a perfect balance between the tragic and the funny. Part of that is down to some excellent comic characters.
Staton is great as Katy, and Kerkour does a wonderful turn as an immigrant navigating the strangeness of British society and politics – from the racist bloke in the post office queue, to young John’s well-meaning attempts to make him feel “at home” with a Muslim prayer mat and assorted ‘ethnic’ wall hangings and music.
But screenwriter Jones has saved perhaps the best part for himself, as frustrated quantity surveyor Peter. He is a ridiculous figure with elements of Basil Fawlty, best described by the writer/actor himself as a “one-man bulls*** factory” full of thwarted ambition and feelings of inadequacy.
Peter has just moved into Katy’s home – but the relationship is in its early days and he has yet to win over her son John. His knee-jerk reaction is that Britain is “full up” and his scenes with Sami are always excellent. Look out for one particular moment with Peter’s special company fleece.
Sami lands right in the middle of this newly-forged family unit and suddenly all those dynamics are completely interrupted.
Now, it is admittedly passé to explain just how timely and relevant a TV show is, but this also feels like it taps into the national conversation without ever becoming a serious “state of the nation” drama.
Brexit has its place in this story (Peter voted Leave; Katy did not), and so do discussions of immigration, racism, terrorism, media bias and political division. And it covers all of that while still being really, really funny.
The show is packed full of excellent one-liners and set pieces, and frankly we’d love to quote large chunks to demonstrate just how hilarious it is – but we cannot do justice to the comic timing and delivery of Staton, Jones and Kerkour. So: just watch it.
Six-part sitcom Home begins on Tuesday 5th March at 9.45pm on Channel 4