In the UK: Sundays, 9pm, BBC3
Everyone working class in sitcoms has a dream. If you’re Del Boy and Rodney, it’s that this time next year, you’ll be millionaires. If you’re Steptoe Jr, it’s that you’ll escape the junk yard and your dad; if you’re Steptoe Sr, it’s that your son will never escape the junk yard. If you’re in the Royle family, it’s that your view of the tele won’t get blocked. And so on.
Massive is another sitcom in which its heroes have dreams, but here, the dream is a very Mancunian one: Danny and Shay want their own record label. When Danny’s nan dies, leaving them £10,000, it looks like they might be able to achieve it. But the course of true business never did run smooth.
Starring Ralf Little (Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps and The Royle Family), Carl Rice (Scallywagga) and Johnny Vegas (Ideal, Benidorm), Massive follows Danny and Shay as they call time on their dreary temping jobs to follow their dream and bring their music obsession to the masses.
Danny’s from Didsbury (posh), Shay is from Gorton (not) and they both work for the council. Bored with their lives, they’re brought together by their love of music. Neither of them could pick out a G chord on a guitar, but they’re musical in the only sense that matters – music is their life.
After a timely family bereavement provides Danny with the means, they decide to do what they’ve always wanted: set up a record company – and Shady Records is born. All they need now is talent!
The series follows their attempts to get the label up and running – signing bands, losing them again, always on the lookout for the next big thing. En route they pluck a girl band from the obscurity of Superb’uns cake shop, get sued by Eminem, get lost in the Pennines – where they find the new Oasis – and get involved in a scam involving a Macedonian prostitute called Zora who has a revolutionary way of making shish kebabs…
Massive has been written by Damian Lanigan whose music credentials go back to 1984 when his band The Twentieth Legion played the Hacienda.
The series is produced by Jim Poyser, whose writing credits include episodes for Shameless, and directed by David Kerr fresh from That Mitchell And Webb Look. The executive producer is BBC Creative Head of Comedy Kenton Allen.
The cast includes Paul Kaye, Philip Jackson, Christine Bottomley, Lorraine Cheshire, Joel Fry, Steve Furst, Craig Parkinson, Beverley Rudd, Faye McKeever, Joanne King and Craig Parkinson.
Is it any good?
You know, it isn’t half bad at all. It’s not laugh a minute, but it does have a surprisingly high number of laughs per episode, even if some of them come from some not desperately subtle comedy and from the background characters rather than the dreamers themselves.
Episode one was pretty much a plot and character establisher: Ralph Little, on good deadpan form, is the bright one who’s keeping it real; Carl Rice is there for the art, even though he can’t tell his art from his Elbow; and Jonny Vegas is Rice’s dad, a man who’s practically addicted to stealing things – if it’s not nailed down, he’ll nick it, and if it is nailed down, he’ll steal a hammer and then nick it.
Along the way, they meet various other characters: a Liam Gallagher-alike with only one tune; their star act, a pair of SugaBabe/Beyoncé wannabes with minimal talent; and a coke-addicted producer (Paul Kaye) who wants to turn everything into real street music. "It sounds frightening," protest HearKittyKitty.
While Vegas and Little are the source of most of the core plot’s humour, it’s ultimately the sub-plots involving rapper-wannabe (but current Comet employee) ‘Swing’ (Joel Fry, who comes across like a younger David Walliams) and his attempts to woo coffee shop worker Nancy that are the most amusing – and cringeworthy. The date from Hell, he spends most of his time regurgitating horrendous facts about Alpacas and bull-fighting, while attempting to complete ‘You’re a ho’ and raps about PCs.
It’s not fantastic, is more silly than realistic, and any programme that thinks an Austin Princess is a car for those without much money needs a good beating, but it’s pretty enjoyable and it’s outstanding when you compare it with the horrific likes of The Wrong Room for instance.
You should be able to watch it on the lovely iPlayer over here and it’s bound to be on YouTube, too.