‘Outnumbered’ final episode review

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And so BBC One’s award-winning and much-loved sitcom Outnumbered comes to an end, but does the finale do justice to the show’s seven year run?

In essence, no. Sadly. It certainly doesn’t go out with a bang (though it does go out with a song; more of that later), the show leaves as humbly and as quietly as it entered the televisual arena. And the denouement also leaves the door wide open for future instalments, should they choose to return. But the laughs aren’t as hearty.

There’s a welcome return from the lovely Emily Berrington, who played Pete’s god-daughter, the slightly dim but alluring Stacey. Her ignorance of Norway raised a smile as did her Greek-based question, “Did you know they invented civilisation?”

Not so welcome is the return for Angela, Sue’s sister (played by Samantha Bond). In the past her appearances had engendered laughs due to her fractious relationship with her sibling, but here there’s no fun to be had. Their father’s state of health and living conditions provide a much more serious form of argument between them. Thankfully, Karen (Ramona Marquez) is on hand to offer her tea and biscuits in the most unexpectedly helpful and hilarious of fashions.

The ongoing arc of Ben (Daniel Roche) and the school show, ‘Spartacus! The Musical’ comes to a rather satisfying conclusion. But before his triumphant display as the leading man (providing, really, the main portions of the laughs in the episode), we got to see another side to the young man who was once such a terrifying troubled-maker.

His insecurity displayed was most touching and a nice reminder of the emotional ups and downs a teenager can face. Ben’s stage fright being treated and cured by his younger sister Karen was a telling and revelatory moment for the show. “Just let the kids sort everything out,” reasons mum (Claire Skinner). It could have made for a rather schmaltzy end, but creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin are too savvy for that, choosing the aforementioned Spartacus song to go out on.

Outnumbered will remain a benchmark for family sitcoms (and by that we mean sitcoms about families, not aimed at them) for some time to come. Though the fifth series hasn’t been nearly as eventful or funny, it has remained full of spot-on day-to-day observances and terrific performances. Indeed, it’s the cast who will be missed most.

The kids and the “adults” made for an ensemble cast are only matched by the likes of Modern Family and we hope it’s not too long before we see them on screen again for the inevitable Christmas specials.

Aired at 9pm on Wednesday 5 March 2014 on BBC One.