TV series review: Starlings – series 1 (2012), directed by Tony Dow
I know it’s a Sunday and everything, but this review cannot wait.
If you haven’t seen the Sky1 drama/comedy Starlings, you’ve missed something. I started watching because I quite like Lesley Sharp and the thought of Brendan Coyle in a comedy series was too good to miss. Fortunately, I was happily surprised at how enjoyable the show is to watch.
Set in the hills around Matlock in Derbyshire (bonus points for the occasional shots of Matlock Bath), Starlings stars the Starling family. It’s a busy household, headed by electrician Terry (Brendan Coyle) and Jan (Lesley Sharp), who keeps hoarding competition wins. Granddad (Alan Williams) has just moved in, the three children haven’t moved out yet, and Jan’s grown-up bohemian nephew Fergie (Steve Edge) comes to take up residence in the caravan in the garden after being kicked out by his long-suffering partner.
The three kids are the tomboyish, football-loving 16-year-old Charlie (Finn Atkins), who wants to go into the family business; the oldest son, the freeloading 26-year-old Gravy (John Dagleish), who likes reptiles and spiders and isn’t too bothered about the real world; and Bell (Rebecca Night), who works as a model, and whose baby boy, Zac, arrives in the very first episode. Zac’s dad, Reuben (Ukweli Roach), is present and desperately wants to get back together with Bell, who absolutely doesn’t want to get back together at all.
To top it all off, there’s also a painter in the family, Uncle Loz (Matt King), who is the result of Granddad’s indiscretion some forty-odd years earlier …
Granddad reminds me a lot of Hector in Monarch of the Glen, but without being sour. He’s a proper geezer, and both Loz and Fergie do their fair share of that too. Gravy is amusing, in his own little way, and Charlie … well, I like Charlie. She does her own thing. Bell, I don’t really understand, because Reuben seems to be a nice fellow and he does try very, very hard to win her back.
The two parents, Jan and Terry, are great and they seem like great parents too. It’s a wonder they can keep it all together. Okay, so the finances and how they manage to live with so many mouths to feed feels a bit like a plot hole, but who knows, maybe they’re secretly millionaires or something? Still, I don’t mind.
The comedy is not necessarily the laugh-out-loud style, but more subtle. The characters might be a little too eccentric to be entirely real, the family dynamic, on the other hand, feels very genuine. The atmosphere is very warm and homely, and that’s one of the things I really love about this show. It’s so full of heart.
Sure, there are hardships and there are frustrations and everything, but there’s so much heart in Starlings that I sit back amazed, and absolutely loving every minute of it. I really do hope they make more of this wonderful show. We need more TV shows like this – warm and friendly, kind but with a bite, real but kooky.
5 out of 5 crying chairs.