BBC4, from 23rd October
Led by two refugees from The Thick of It (Peter Capaldi as director and Joanna Scanlan as actor and writer), Getting On is a variant of the “situationist comedy” pioneered by The Office. It has the same neo-realist “mockumentary” feel, improvisatory acting and satirical close observation, but with one crucial addition: warmth.
Most of the appeal of Getting On comes from its unappealing setting—a ramshackle NHS female geriatric ward. A television series completely dominated by middle-aged or elderly women is pretty unusual, but the cruelty and compassion of the storytelling make it unique: the daughter who’s yo-yoed back and forth over her mother’s imminent death, the gay male matron hounded by the voracious ward sister who thinks she can turn him straight, the unclaimed stool lying on a chair which could be an important sample for the consultant’s big research project. Somehow, amid the unravelling carnage, the petty casualness of the staff is both buttock-clenching and heart-warming. The first series won Bafta and RTS nominations for writer-actors Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine and Scanlan, and the six new episodes will no doubt pick up more.