Crack a big-screen British comedy in half (it could be Calendar Girls, it could be Made In Dagenham) and you'll find the word "Ealing" running through it like "Blackpool" through a stick of rock.

Crack a big-screen British comedy in half (it could be Calendar Girls, it could be Made In Dagenham) and you’ll find the word “Ealing” running through it like “Blackpool” through a stick of rock.

Such is our ongoing love affair with Whisky Galore! and those other movies from the late 1940s and 1950s (and the adherence of UK filmmakers to tried-and-tested formulas) that this laboured metaphor was always going to worm its way into print as soon as the BBC announced its latest Sunday-night series was set in a rundown seaside town whose reputation was built on a sticky pink-and-white sweet shaped like a wand.

Mind you, cliche is the stuff that Sugartown (BBC One, Sunday, 10.25pm) is made of. Its recipe of ingredients stares you in the face: a community of mild eccentrics with old-fashioned values; a flash git who wants to exploit them; a bit of ignore-the-embarrassment dancing; an old love triangle, a splash of fresh romance, a dose of wrinkle-skinned affection … Jodi Reynolds and Sally Dexter’s screenplay, produced by Shed Media Scotland, is a flagrant case of Local Hero + The Full Monty + Strictly Ballroom = Sugartown.

But BBC Sunday evenings are a territory where no feathers must be ruffled, so, with its first episode safely in the bag, and plot and characters set comfortably in motion, Sugartown is ready to wrap itself around viewers for the next two weeks like a snuggly blanket on the living-room sofa.

We knew where we were heading as soon as Max Burr (Tom Ellis) drove along the seafront in his convertible sportscar in the pre-title sequence. This was less the return of the prodigal son, more the black sheep back in his hometown to play the wolf, carrying a salt-and-vinegar chip on his shoulder and a suitcase full of hubris in his car boot. In character opposition, we had the mayor cycling to work in his red robes and chain. Thus were the programme’s dramatic values quickly nailed to the wall in easy visual terms.

As a comedy drama, Sugartown’s advantage over TV sitcoms is its running time: at one hour rather than the typical 30 minutes, it allows its cast of characters to win us over at a gentler pace, one that suits its faded seaside setting and less pushy style of humour.

Even the community values at the heart of the story have a cosy, nostalgic feel. Max, all designer stubble and smarmy come-ons to the old flame who has just got engaged to his brother Jason, wants to open an “entertainment complex” (a casino with kitten-costumed waitresses, by any other name) then buy cheap property to turn the town into a generic middle-class destination. The working-class inhabitants, in response, rediscover their civic pride and fight back with a masterplan that involves their once-famous sweet factory launching a line of retro-confectionery and reviving the town’s ballroom dancing heritage.

In Local Hero, Bill Forsyth made the townsfolk’s motivations a bit more cynical and softened the edges of the incomer. Sugartown paints its promenade in simpler, brighter colours. That’s why the former remains one of the best films this country has ever produced, while the latter won’t (and needn’t) do a whole lot more than satisfy the sweet tooth of a Sunday-night audience.