Friday Night Dinner returns to Channel 4 tomorrow night (Friday, 27th March) but one long-standing character will be absent from the Channel 4 sitcom after the last series concluded with the tearjerking death of dog Wilson.
The pet of the Goodmans’ strange neighbour Jim (Mark Heap), Wilson was adored and feared in equal measure by his owner, until he passed away suddenly in the final episode of series five.
So why did poor Wilson have to die? RadioTimes.com put that very question to Friday Night Dinner writer/creator Robert Popper, who said: “Often, the last episodes, I quite like them feeling quite epic, and having a bit of pathos. I don’t know why – it [Wilson’s death] just came to me. I wanted to surprise people, and shock them.”
He added: “I just wanted to shake things up, really, and just do something shocking and interesting, something that you didn’t expect was going to come.”
Each episode of Friday Night Dinner sees sons Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) return to the family home for dinner with parents Jackie (Tamsin Greig) and Martin (Paul Ritter), only for something to inevitably go wrong – with neighbour Jim often to blame.
Thought the series is renowned for its madcap antics, Popper told us that he thinks the heart that the show has is just as important as the humour.
“The family, whilst they are horrible to each other half the time, I think it’s inherent that you can tell they love each other,” he said. “They’re such brilliant performers that you can tell they have such deep love for each other. Even the brothers, who try to kill each other the whole time.
“I suppose, when I’m writing it, I’m always thinking about the viewers, and what they’re feeling. Sometimes I think, ‘Oh, this would be a good bit to pull something out of the bag, and shock them!’ – and there are a couple of things that happen in this series that are definitely going to shock people.
“It’s all very funny, but there are a couple of shocking moments.”
But will the sitcom ever be the same again without Wilson? “I kind of tend to just go with what I think would be good and interesting, and then worry about it later!” Popper laughed.
“You know, often I think, ‘Why did I do that? That’s going to be hard now.’ But that’s the challenge, really.
“But don’t worry – I think viewers will be surprised and pleased by series six, and what happens…”