Peter Kay’s Car Share
There is a certain amount of snobbery in British comedy. And a distrust of anything that might be considered “mainstream”. It’s a very easy thing to throw accusations about lazy broad comedy around, but the truth is that broad, mainstream comedy that is done well is very hard to get right. And Car Share gets it right, in spades.
There’s lots to love. It starts with the little things, like the radio inserts and ads, as well as the throwaway sight gags like road signs (one for the Shaun Ryder Rehab Centre sticks in the mind). The moment in episode 4 where John sits with his nan in the car having to listen to an awful funeral director’s advert is a beautiful little vignette of awkwardness.
The music fits perfectly. There’s a lot of pop, some of it cheesy, some less so. But it too fits the kind of naturalistic, everyday atmosphere that much of Kay’s work mines. This is the comedy of the small, the quotidian, the comedy of real lives. This is one reason why I love it: the dialogue has the rhythm of real conversations, and I suspect is at least partially improvisational between Kay and Sian Gibson. It’s lovely to see the growing warmth between John and Kayleigh, and the hesitant gambits they make in their developing relationship.
Each episode has something to recommend, but the final two episodes stand out for entirely different reasons. At least one moment in Episode 3 is probably going to find its way into any number of classic compilations in years to come, as we see the story of how John and Kayleigh play hooky for a day. The final episode mixes laughs with a real sense of pathos, with an ending (that I’ll not give away) that leaves a third series as a possibility. What is also wonderful about this show, as with Kay’s best work, is the ability to mix the laughs with moments of real emotion, and for us to feel invested in the characters. It’s easy to see just how much Kay admires the work of Ronnie Barker, though he doesn’t quite have the same range as his hero. That said, he does manage to imbue John with depth. Sian Gibson makes Kayleigh truly loveable too, and we can see her, in amongst the Diet Coke moments with the trolley boys, begin to realise her developing feelings for her car share buddy. It’s beautifully drawn.
My only complaint is that four episodes in this series is hardly any length at all. As soon as it started, it was done. But I suppose you can’t have everything.