So, a series about a diffident, bespectacled person with tousled dark hair and a testing relationship with their parents. Oh, and they’re gay, too. Grandma’s House has been down this neighbourhood before, and now it’s the turn of Sue Perkins, who also gives us a character so apparently autobiographical that there appears to be no acting going on whatsoever.
Heading Out is a lot less dark than Grandma’s House – essentially, quite old fashioned and with broad appeal. In the final analysis, that may well be its most attractive feature. What’s nice about the series – at least on the strength of this opening episode – is that Sue Perkins’ character isn’t defined by her sexuality. Sure, that’s the whole plot that will engineer the next five episodes, the fact that Sue (or rather, Sara) hasn’t yet come out to her parents, but huge swathes of the comedy have nothing to do with being gay.
That being said, one of the most effective sequences arrives when Sue (sorry, Sara) bumps into Eve, a cutely intelligent dog owner. Despite her awkwardness, Sara is unable to stop herself immediately slotting into flirt mode within seconds, and the result is a romantic scene with genuine chemistry.
You’re not necessarily going to find a big political message writ large here, but nor would you want to: this is simple comedy (if a gag involving a dog chasing a disturbingly uninterested cat is unlikely to raise a smile, then you’re in the wrong place), with warm and attractive characters. And it may well have a political slant foisted on it anyway: just as Miranda Hart is a heroine for millions of teenage girls discovering that they’re able to be just as funny as the shouty boys, then there’s every chance that there’s a least a few twelve year olds who will see an attractive, successful and witty lead character, and find the courage themselves to come out. Sometimes, silly unimportant comedy really can be that serious.
Aired at 10pm on Tuesday 26 February 2013 on BBC Two.
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