Uncle is a new BBC3 half hour comedy starring singer-songwriter/comedian Nick Helm (Live at the Electric, 8 Out of 10 Cats) as Andy – a suicidally depressed, failed musician, who receives an urgent phone call from his sister asking him to watch his neurotic 12 yo nephew, Errol… just at the point Andy was about to kill himself… It’s fair to say, the show has a rather dark edge!
The first episode involves Andy and Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott) having to spend some enforced ‘quality time’ together as he drives his nephew to football practice and is forced to make small talk, which results in one of the most disturbing, but laugh out loud funny descriptions of ‘love’ come tumbling from Andy’s mouth. There is an air of About a Boy in this first episode, although Nick’s character is about as far away from Hugh Grant as you can get. As the day rolls on, Andy (after bribing Errol to leave practice early), decides makes a stop off at his estranged girlfriend workplace (a male strip club) to beg her to take him back. He nearly wins her over by pretending Errol is his son… before the lad blows his story, resulting in the club’s owner (Gwen’s father, who’s somewhat of a cross between Alice Cooper and Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham), throws them out, after threatening the remove a certain part of Andy with a spoon…
Helm’s musical background also comes to fore as the story progresses as Andy’s mind wanders off into some excellent music video style dream sequences, reminiscence of shows like Flight of the Conchords. This continues in the opening of the 2nd episode with a dark song about love being like a plane crash – Andy… not a fan of love. ;)
This show is a buddy comedy, albeit a very dark one. The relationship between the boy and his Uncle works wonderfully, and is perfectly cast. Speller-Gillott is great as the neurosis laden 12 year old, who you get the impression is equally as devious as his layabout uncle, but just manages to hide it better. Helm is a superb comedian and a great screen presence, with the exchanges between the mismatched pair providing some of the funniest lines in the show.
Uncle is a great ride, and although it’s most definitely a hilarious comedy, it’s not without it’s touching moments as the relationship develops between this oddest of odd couples. Andy maybe trying to teach Errol about the world, but it’s clear the boy isn’t the only one who needs to learn about growing up…
Uncle airs on the 13th January on BBC3 at 10pm, and is well worth checking out!