IT is a tough old game, sitcom writing. Okay, so it is hardly up there with being a bomb disposal expert or Eamonn Holmes’s personal trainer, but the business of making people laugh has a grim failure rate.

Even the ones that turn out to be winners, such as Dad’s Army, can have less than sparkling starts. In the case of Jimmy Perry and David Croft’s comedy, the BBC was fearful of joking about the war, and a pilot episode went down badly with a test audience.

It helps to put commissioning editors’ nerves at ease if the creator can show a track record. Holly Walsh, creator-writer of new BBC sitcom The Other One (BBC1, Friday), is also one of the co-creators of the Bafta-nominated Motherland, with Sharon Horgan, Graham Linehan and Helen Linehan. Walsh’s co-writer on The Other One is Pippa Brown (Bad Education).

If those calling cards are not enough, check out the cast: Rebecca Front (The Thick of It); Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley); Ellie White (Princess Beatrice in The Windsors); Lauren Socha (Misfits); and Amit Shah (W1A).

In the pilot, first shown three years ago and running again next week by way of a series opener, mum-of-one Tess Walcott (Front) discovers her late husband had a lover (Finneran) and another daughter, both called Catherine (White and Socha).

This being a British sitcom, class conflict runs through The Other One like varicose veins. Tess’s Catherine works in insurance, has a fiance, and is buying a house. Marilyn’s Catherine delivers fast food and has “completed Tinder”.

The pilot was strong enough to lead to a commission for a six-part series. It takes a while to warm up, largely because the Marilyn/Catherine characters teeter on unlikeable initially. Give it time, though, and they begin to grow on you.

As a bonus there is a soundtrack that stretches from Springsteen and Supertramp to Dylan, Paul Simon, and Bolan. Wonder who the target audience can be?

(PS If that title seems familiar it’s because there was another sitcom called The Other One, which ran from 1977-79 and starred Richard Briers and Michael Gambon.)

I’m no lawyer but I believe it is now illegal for a week to pass on Channel Four without there being sight of Fred Sirieix, everyone’s favourite Frenchman after Eric “When seagulls follow the trawler” Cantona. Sirieix’s empire has grown so big it has spilled over to ITV, where he can also be seen in Gordon, Gino and Fred: American Road Trip (though only on catch-up as it finished last month).

The fifth series of First Dates Hotel (Channel 4, Thursday) comes to an end this week, so as regulation has it, along comes Hitched at Home: Our Lockdown Wedding (Channel 4, Monday).

This year will be remembered for many things, some dreadful, some good. It will also go down as the year of cancellations – weddings, parties, holidays; you name it, a lot of us have spent hours on the phone trying to get our money back. Among the disappointed are the 60,000 people who had to cancel their weddings.

One such couple are Londoners Patrick and Louise. Fortunately, Fred arrives with a promise to make everything right again. But how do you find rings, suits, and special somethings when all the shops are shut? Leave it to Fred and his contacts book.

Come this time next year, most of the lockdown programming will hopefully be but a hazy memory. Some ideas have been a hit, however, and I’m pleased to say Shelf Isolation (BBC Scotland, Sunday) is among them.

The idea – author Damian Barr talks to prominent Scots about what they are watching and listening to during lockdown – was nice and simple, and the quality of the guests, starting with Mark Bonnar, and going on to Denise Mina, Greg Hemphill and Kirsty Wark, has been consistently high.

The show was meant to be on for just three weeks, but it was given a fortnight’s extension.

In the final show Alan Cumming delivers his suggestions. Lauren Bacall and Burns feature, but I hope, given his extensive career in American television, he will be able to tell us what the next big things coming our way on television might be.

Alas, it is time for the final two episodes of Normal People (BBC 1, Monday). Like millions of others, I expect you probably binge-watched the series but this is one drama that rewards a second viewing. From the performances to the fashions, Sally Rooney’s tale of first love has been one of the best things on television this year.

The Other One, BBC1, Friday, 9pm; Hitched at Home: Our Lockdown Wedding, Channel 4, Monday, 9pm; Shelf Isolation, BBC Scotland, Sunday, 10pm; Normal People, BBC1, Monday, 9.05pm, 9.35pm.


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