Lee Mack defends ‘old fashioned’ BBC sitcom after savage criticism
Posted by  badge Boss on Dec 13, 2023 - 05:46AM
Not Going Out first debuted on the BBC in 2006 (Picture: BBC/Avalon/Pete Dadds)

creator has jumped to the sitcom’s defence once again.

, has written and – that returned for a 13th series earlier this year – since 2006.

The comedian – who stars as Lee alongside Sally Bretton’s Lucy in the series – spoke out about some of the criticism the show has faced over the years ahead of the upcoming Not Going Out special, which is set to mark the 100th episode.

Talking about being ‘in the peak of the dark comedy movement’ when the show first hit screens back in 2006, Lee said: ‘Yeah, we were not in at all. The night before we made the pilot there was a documentary on called The Sitcom is Dead about how the studio-based sitcom is now in the past.

‘There were a lot more studio sitcoms at that time – Goodnight Sweetheart, My Family, Birds of a Feather… I think there might be only us and maybe Mrs Brown’s Boys now.’

He added, referencing some of the critics’ comments: ‘They’ll often say this type of sitcom is from the seventies. I always find that odd because if you ask people to list their favourite sitcoms ever, they’re all from the seventies – Fawlty Towers, Dad’s Army, Steptoe & Son.

The BBC comedy series is now in its 13th season (Picture: BBC/ Avalon / Mark Johnson)
The Christmas Special will mark the show’s 100th episode (Picture: BBC / Avalon/ Pete Dadds)

‘There’s something unique about a British studio sitcom with a live audience. And look at the continuing success of Friends on streamers. The main thing I learned is to increase the jokes – American sitcoms just have so many more jokes.’

The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston has been among critics commenting on the sitcom over the years, calling it ‘unoriginal and utterly undemanding’ in 2017, despite admitting it was ‘not totally unfunny.’

The show – that has hit peaks of as many as six million viewers – was previously cancelled in 2009, but was brought back amid viewers’ outrage.

Lee said Not Going Out has ‘never been in fashion at all’ (Picture: BBC/ Avalon / Mark Johnson)
Lee said critics complained the show felt dated and from the 70s (Picture: BBC / Avalon/ Pete Dadds)

Admitting it was series three and fans had been coming up to him in the street to praise him on the show, Lee said of the cancellation: ‘It got cancelled perfectly at the right time because the internet was kicking off.

‘Nowadays you get asked to sign something on a weekly basis but it was quite unusual at the time and that’s when I realised it was having an impact.

‘People were coming up to me in the street and saying thank you just for making them laugh – I realised it is quite important to make people laugh.’

However, Lee pointed out that many of the UK’s best sitcoms were from that era (Picture: Shutterstock)

Speaking at a screening of the upcoming Christmas episode, Lee also spoke about the future of the show, insisting ‘discussions are ongoing’ with the BBC about more episodes, Radio Times reported.

‌He said, ‘We’re talking about it now. I’d love to do more, I love doing it, it’s great fun, I love the cast but […] it’s not always my decision, these things. I just wait for someone to say, “There’s a bag of money, get on with it.”‘

The show has changed quite a bit over the years and Lee admitted they ‘don’t know’ what they’ll ‘do with the future of it.’

Not Going Out’s 2023 Christmas special is set to air on December 24 at 10pm on BBC One.