As a major fan of Al Murray's character, The Pub Landlord, I looked forward to watching this. But if I'm honest, I had fairly low expectations. However, of the 37 episodes, I reckon only half a dozen (if that) are sub-standard, while the rest are frequently laugh-out loud funny.
Al Murray perfectly brings his stage persona to life and the superb ensemble cast regularly chip in with brilliant contributions. The characters - The Prof, the flatulent Terry (Phil Daniels), Steve the unpaid barman and the 'old geezer' (we never learn his name) are brilliantly drawn and wonderfully played. Series One also contains an excellent performance by the lovely Julia Sawalha as an Aussie barmaid, though she's replaced by another, younger actress for Series Two.
It also features frequent appearances by Marc Bannerman (Gianni de Marco in 'Eastenders') as rival landlord Greg Thompson. His over the top performance and comic timing are an absolute revelation.
I stand in awe of the two main writers: Al Murray himself and Richard Herring, who get occasional help from the great Stewart Lee (who also acts as script editor for both series). This is top stuff - original, inventive and full of top class swearing! Their skit of Kubrick's last movie 'Eyes Wide Shut' (entitled 'Optics Wide Shut') is pure genius.
This originally aired on Sky, and as I don't subscribe, I missed this first time around. However, at this price for over 14 hours viewing, it's an absolute must for lovers of modern British comedy. A couple of the lads I work with were sniffy and disdainful when I bought this, arguing it was on the same broad humour level as the 'Carry On' films. This viewpoint is frankly wrong: 'Time Gentlemen Please' is clever, funny and chocfull of great running jokes. It's also refreshingly non-PC.
Absolutely superb stuff!