Remote Control - Saturday May 16, 2015

Peter Kay and Sian Gibson star in Peter Kay's Car Share
Peter Kay and Sian Gibson star in Peter Kay's Car Share
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I’m in comedy paradise by the dashboard light

What do you talk about in the car on the way to work?

The weather? Last night’s football? Whether or not Kim Kardashian really DID break the internet?

Maybe you go to work solo, singing along to the radio, or slinging foul names at the phone-in callers.

Chances are, your conversation won’t have touched on subjects such as losing your virginity on a mechanical bull (“What setting was it on?”), panic attacks at the car wash or the merits of Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

If you’re Peter Kay, on the other hand, this is exactly what you talk about. In his new car-set sitcom Car Share (BBC1, Wednesdays, 9.30pm), he plays John, a supermarket assistant manager forced to car share with Kayleigh from promotions (Sian Gibson).

Over the course of the drives to and from work, the two bond, using their chats to veer from Elsie-off-deli’s catfight with Janine Cosgrove to the repeated ‘deaths’ of Kayleigh’s granddad to John’s romantic disasters.

In this week’s fourth episode, Kayleigh revealed she believes dinosaurs never existed – mainly because they look so stupid – while John’s new hands-free car phone kit caused problems with his boss.

Confined to the car, these conversations could feel forced, but they never do, seeming to spring organically from whatever comes into Kay and Gibson’s minds.

Every episode so far has had some laugh-out-loud lines, but the characters have depth, they’re not just mouthpieces for one-liners.

And the attention to detail is impressive – after Phoenix Nights’ Chorley FM, Kay has created Forever FM, a local commercial radio station playing all the ‘classics’.

From the DJs promoting a new slot called ‘Shed Surgery’ to finding hamsters in kitchen cupboards, nothing is left to chance.

Plus, every so often we get a cameo appearance. Last week, Reece Shearsmith pitched up as Ray, a chippy supermarket fishmonger.

Shearsmith co-created another half-hour ‘sitcom’ series, Inside No.9, which has just finished its run on BBC2. If you haven’t seen it, I urge you to catch it on DVD.

It has one of the funniest half-hours of TV so far this year (The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge), one of the scariest (Seance Time) and one of the most poignant (The 12 Days of Christine).

Plus the closing scene of the last episode in series one (The Harrowing) still terrifies me.

Philip Cunnington