Mitchell & Webb in Daydream Believers

Starring: David Mitchell and Robert Webb
BBC Audio
RRP: £8.99
ISBN: 978 1 405 68793 5
Available 03 September 2007

Ray writes popular sci-fi stories when he doesn’t get writer’s block. He does, however, get many interruptions - thanks to Colin, his lodger. Colin starts antenatal classes in the hope of finding a girlfriend, and the flatmates’ kitchen is suddenly infested with ants. Meanwhile, in the infinite reaches of space, the mighty alien empire of Baron Amstrad is suddenly invaded by ruthless alien hordes. The Baron is feeling a bit broody, and gives birth to an idea that might just help. But, wonders Info, his retro-looking android, do the alien Labradons look more like locusts, bees, ants - or dogs? Will Colin get lucky with a girl? And does the red alert have to be so loud...?

This 27-minute sitcom, written by and starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb, was first broadcast on BBC Radio 2 on 05 May 2007, the pilot to a series that has not (to date) been picked up. That’s a shame, as this is a good laugh, and is bound to appeal to Mitchell and Webb’s legion of fans.

Many of the themes are admittedly rather familiar, either from the pair’s radio sketch show That Mitchell & Webb Sound and its television incarnation That Mitchell & Webb Look or from their Channel 4 sitcom Peep Show. For instance, there are jokes about animal charities, lazy sci-fi writing (see Series Two of That Mitchell & Webb Sound) and a man dressed as an unconvincing robot (see Series Three), while Colin’s (Webb) attempts to get laid are every bit as pathetic as Jeremy’s antics in Peep Show, though perhaps less cynical.

The comedians’ regular female lead, Olivia Colman, is again present and correct, as is their Mitchell & Webb Sound collaborator Mark Evans, supported this time by the ever-amusing Mark Benton (Early Doors). As with previous BBC ventures, the producer is Gareth Edwards.

This is, in fact, not the first time that Mitchell and Webb have used the Daydream Believers concept. It was previously a one-off television pilot in Channel 4’s Comedy Lab strand, which also starred Mitchell, Webb and Colman. The premise allows for outer-space high jinks akin to Hyperdrive (only funnier), with a comfortable grounding in present-day suburbia, the traditional setting of British sitcoms.

On the basis of this single episode, it’s a pity the show has yet to be commissioned as a series. I, for one, would certainly like to hear more. That’s my dream, anyway.

My only real complaint is the price tag: nearly a tenner for just half an hour’s listening. It might have been better to have tagged this episode at the end of That Mitchell & Webb Sound: Series Three or to have released both the radio and TV pilots together on CD or DVD. Believe it.

Richard McGinlay

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