20 July, 2009

What the Papers Say: "Monday, Monday"


"Monday Monday is a brand new seven part comedy drama series for ITV1, created by new writing team Ben Edwards and Rachael New and produced by talkbackTHAMES. Set in the head office of a struggling supermarket chain, it is a tale for our times about a group of workers forced to re-locate to a new city. With their friends and family left far behind, they’ll be in each other’s pockets (and beds) like never before."

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Sam Wollaston, The Guardian

"Ah, here's some respite: Monday Monday (ITV1), a new comedy drama. I do love a comedy drama. The head office of a supermarket chain has moved from London to Leeds, which gives some of the characters the chance to leave messy lives behind and start again. We're talking the office environment as a source of comedy here. So the head of HR is a hopeless alcoholic. The boss is a bumbling fool. A new hotshot manager is parachuted in, complete with tarty bimbo secretary, whose job description includes sleeping with hotshot manager boss . . . No, you're the sexist, for thinking that she's a he, and he's a she. Unless you saw it, of course, in which case you're an idiot for not switching over to The Street. Because Monday Monday is hopeless – lame and laboured, tired and predictable, it's as if The Office never happened. It's my fault, I'm the idiot, for wanting respite from the misery. Come back Jimmy McGovern, banging home the messages with your big pile driver, all is forgiven."

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Andrew Billen, The Times

"The rewards likely to be delivered by Monday Monday will be rather less: a few smiles, perhaps mild curiosity about who will cop off with whom and the pleasure of seeing Fay Ripley playing a drunk. This new comedy drama is set in the human resources department of a supermarket company that, for no discernable reason, commercial or dramatic, has relocated to Leeds. Episode one began with the very old device of a girl who has a one-night stand with a bloke who turns out to be her colleague and continued with the similarly venerable plot-starter of introducing a new ball-breaker boss to the team. The script bravely lunged towards bad taste with a line about a sick colleague's “Kajagoogoo cancer”, so named because she was as unlikely as the band to make a comeback."

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Tim Walker, The Independent

ITV1's new recessionary comedy drama, Monday Monday, is set in the head office of a struggling supermarket chain, though it could be the head office of pretty much any struggling business, so generic is the writers' idea of a white-collar workplace. Departments like "marketing" and "human resources" are more or less interchangeable; the only visible staff members are the heads of said departments and their PAs; and the plot of the first episode was hung on such overfamiliar dramatic hooks as an office party and a hazily rationalised PowerPoint presentation.

As we joined the staff of Butterworth's, they'd just completed a move to new offices in Leeds, and we were rarely allowed to forget it. The hour was filled with panoramic shots of the city centre, as if advertising it as an attractive nightlife destination, or to prove beyond doubt that ITV was fulfilling its obligations to the regions. A power struggle was quickly underway between chief executive Roger (Peter Wight) and Alyson (Holly Aird) the ballbreaking new chief operating officer, whose rallying address to her troops was full of yawnsome platitudes.

Perhaps the business-speak was deliberately hackneyed, but Butterworth's is no Wernham Hogg, and after a while the office clichés seemed merely an excuse for the lack of any original dialogue. I chuckled reluctantly at the antics of Neil Stuke as Max ("acting head of marketing") and his PA, Vince (Saikat Ahamed), who would do anything – anything – to get a promotion. But Jenny Agutter, as Roger's PA (who spent most of her scenes sitting quietly in the corner while Alyson and her boss traded veiled insults) was reduced to delivering such gems as: "We all have [BlackBerrys] now, dear. Didn't you get the email?" "Didn't you get the email"?! Yeesh.

The main storyline concerned human resources' ditzy department head, Christine (Fay Ripley), and her long-suffering PA, Sally (Morven Christie), recently left brokenhearted by a cheating ex-fiancé. Christie makes an immensely likeable lead, but the romantic subplot developing between her and the rogueish Steven (Tom Ellis) has been pieced together from old scraps of other on-screen romances.

Meanwhile, it emerged that Christine's wackiness was in fact a result of her crippling alcoholism. Sally's first job each morning was to rouse her boss, invariably sleeping off a hangover in her car, with a large cup of tea. While drunk during the working day, Christine engaged in unfunny slapstick routines with glass doors, overhead projectors and coffee-stained suits. And in the evening, when she was meant to be at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, she was glugging merlot in her hotel room, leaving Sally to go in her stead (which I'm pretty sure is not allowed).

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That all seems rather harsh. What did you think?

Catch up with ITVplayer

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Official site

Press Pack

“New writing team Ben Edwards and Rachael New have a wonderfully distinctive authorial voice and we are delighted to have been able to put such a strong team together, both in front of and behind the camera, to bring their work to the screen’."

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"Monday, Mondays", ITV1, Mondays, 9:00pm for 7 weeks

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