You might have found it overshadowed by the return of Sherlock to our screens, but last week saw the return of the BBC comedy Uncle starring Nick Helm as the depressed main character Andy, and his socially awkward nephew Errol (Elliot Speller-Gillott). Uncle, for the uninitiated, is a series in the style of Flight of the Conchords and The Mighty Boosh; starring a pair of losers who’re in a band trying to make it big, and with each episode comes a new musical number from the pair. The main difference between the three series are the outlooks of the shows, while Boosh relies heavily on surrealism, and Conchords relies on dry wit, Uncle brings a nihilistic edge to the comedy.
The final series of Uncle comes back on a strong note, following up 18 months after the finale of season two and we’re bombarded with quite a lot of information. Sam (Daisy Haggard) and Bruce (Daniel Lawrence Taylor) have moved in together and are thinking about having a baby; Andy has sold a heavy metal jingle about carpets; he’s also got upcoming interviews with a record label, and he hasn’t spoken to the woman who told him she was pregnant with his baby in the last 18 months.
‘Father’s Day’ focuses on three stories, all revolving around various characters approach to the idea of a new baby in the family. The most minor arc follows Sam as she makes her journey from firmly not wanting a baby, to announcing to Bruce at the end they should give it a go. Haggard feels a little underutilized in this episode, though I feel like she’s going to become a bigger part of this season. Despite this, she still offers some amusing scenes, and as always, has wonderful rapport with Helm as the two riff on their characters ‘fuck it’ attitudes.
Then we have Bruce and Errol, who aren’t getting on no matter how much of a lovable, try-hard, dork Bruce is about everything. Bruce changing the name of the ‘man cave’ to the ‘gender neutral cave’ to earn brownie points with Errol is just one of the gems he comes up with in his mission to bond. Their relationship goes further south when Errol finds out about Bruce’s intention to have a child with his mother. Speller-Gillott really shines in this episode, confronting Bruce’s relentlessly cheery demeanor with a nihilistic rant about how it’d be irresponsible to bring a child into the world as it currently is; adopting a Helm-esque gravelly voice throughout was the icing on the cake, throwing me into hysterics. Over time, as Errol’s story collides with Andy’s he comes around to the idea of having another sibling, and to Bruce agreeing to go to find the gluten free stall at a local pie festival.
Finally we have Andy, trying to avoid thinking about his hypothetical child for as long as possible (despite Errol’s well-intentioned, if boundary-crossing, meddling), and collect the package he ordered. Also worth a mention is the fact Dylan Moran appears in this arc as an angry and jaded record label owner; I’d complain that angry and jaded seems to be the only character Moran ever plays, but it’s so damn funny I can’t bring myself to, and I’m looking forward to any future appearances in the show.
Over the course of the episode Andy slowly comes around to the idea of having a child. He even goes shopping for a onesie, opting for a gender neutral red after Errol lectures him on how stupid it is to assign a specific colour to a certain gender. His journey of slow acceptance leads into this week’s song ‘Baby’; it’s not one of my favourites from Helm, though the animated video is wonderful and honestly, writing a song to fit into a story and a character’s mind at that point in the story is no mean feat, and I’m consistently impressed with Helm’s ability to do so. The wonderful slow pacing of Andy’s mindset makes the conclusion of his arc truly heart-wrenching. He appears in front of Teresa (Raquel Cassidy), with his gift bagged onesie, acknowledges all his faults, and pleads to be part of the baby’s life. Only for Teresa to tell him there is no baby. She lists off all her reasons for getting an abortion in front of a shell-shocked Andy, who then goes home, drinks beer, and tries (unconvincingly) to pretend he doesn’t care. He gets his package in the end, for those that were concerned. This kind of thing is exactly why I love Uncle as a series (and Nick Helm as a comedian), the ability to portray pain and depression, consistently come through it laughing and keep on going without ever feeling like it’s mocking depressed people is something truly phenomenal.
This final series opens strong and there looks to be an intriguing direction for the rest of it. Uncle is available in its entirety on BBC iPlayer with it’s second episode now online as well. Anyone who likes their comedy irreverent and vaguely dark, with the occasional musical accompaniment, should watch it immediately.