Lee Mack is no stranger to the world of sitcoms, having written and starred in his own series Not Going Out since 2006, and the popular comedian returns to our screens this week as the lead in a brand new scripted comedy show.
Semi-Detached, written by David Crow and Oliver Maltman, chronicles the life of the hapless Stuart (Mack) as he consistently finds his life turned upside down by the farcical events that seem to occur wherever he goes.
There are several differences between the new programme and Not Going Out – Semi-Detached is a single camera show as opposed to a studio comedy, for one, while the series also plays out in real time – which BBC Comedy chief Shane Allen reckons is a first for a sitcom.
And according to Mack, one of the biggest differences between the two shows concerns the nature of the characters he plays.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com and other press at a live-streamed Q&A to promote the new series, Mack said, “In Not Going Out I’m usually the one causing my own problem but in this it is completely not the fault of Stuart – everything that happens to him is as a result of other people’s bad choices and them telling what to do.
“But the one thing that is his fault is that he should just stand up for himself and he never does, he always tolerates it – and it’s pathetic if I’m going to be honest. I got quite annoyed by the character by the end of the series!
“I was like, ‘Oh, just punch someone in the face be a bit more assertive!'”
The series is populated by a wide range of eccentric and peculiar characters, including Stuart’s hippy-like father played by Clive Russell and his unstable neighbour played by Geoffrey McGivern, with Mack essentially playing the straight man of the piece.
And this is something that Mack says felt like slightly familiar ground to him – with the star claiming that it almost reminded him of his stand-up days.
“I feel like because I’m from a standup background, I used to do a lot of MC-ing – so I would MC the different acts – and this sort of feels like an acting version of that,” he said.
“I’m like the MC that goes round introducing these great acts. I literally go from door to door, knock on the door and then somebody does 10 minutes, and then I go to someone else [who does the same]. So I do feel like the straight man in this but in a really good way!”
Semi-Detached launches on BBC Two on Thursday 6th August at 10pm. The boxset will also be available on BBC iPlayer – find out what else to watch with our TV Guide