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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2013
This sitcom, set in Ancient Rome, is clearly aimed at a youngish audience rather than middle-aged fogies like me. I sit through most modern TV comedies with a stoney face but I like all things Roman so I thought I'd give this one a whirl. Well, mirabile dictu, as the Romans used to say, Plebs made me chuckle and even got a few good laughs out of me, especially when cockney gladiator Danny Dyer parted company with his head in the arena (nothing personal Danny, it was just gruesomely funny.) I guess you could describe the series as a kind of Inbetweeners in tunics and togas and the level of humour is rather similar veering between schoolboy lewdness and something rather more sophisticated. The comic star of the show is undoubtedly Ryan Sampson, effortlessly funny as the gormless and totally useless slave Grumio with his hangdog face, pudding basin haircut and deadpan delivery ("Go on, then, try and sell me " he says to his exasperated owner, "no one will buy me.") Grumio's attempt to eat the newly introduced pineapple also got a laugh out of me - "It's not bad, that" he says, crunching into one of the spikey leaves. But all of the regular characters are smartly cast and sharply etched, and it was good to see Yootha Joyce's old partner from George and Mildred making a guest appearance as a bolshie old army veteran, and likewise comedy stalwart Janine Duvitski as a demented old crone spouting apocalyptic nonsense.

The series serves up a clever mix of the authentic and the anachronistic and each episode zips along at a brisk pace with many scenes lasting barely seconds. I particularly liked the final episode in which the festival of Saturnalia is celebrated in the style of New Year's Eve, complete with a midnight gong in the forum, whilst the hapless Grumio gets involved in the Scientology type cult of the goddess Cybele, only to find out that castration is one of the rites of initiation. There's also a funny episode in which Thrace has just joined the Roman Empire and the city is inundated with Thracians talking with Polish accents. And it's not often you notice the production values in a TV sitcom, but the forum set, crowd scenes, costumes and interiors certainly suggest the series cost a denarius or two to make. Indeed one wonders why or how Plebs made its debut on ITV2, a channel chiefly renowned for endless repeats of unoriginal low budget fodder such as the Jeremy Kyle Show

I actually watched a few episodes twice which is the sort of thing I normally only do for comedy greats like Fawlty Towers or Father Ted. I'm not sure yet whether Plebs has the makings of a classic sitcom but it's certainly good fun and anything that wrings a few laughs out of me and keeps me smiling can't be bad. So let's have another series, and let it be even funnier.
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on 1 September 2013
It's original, always good-natured and very funny. The cast fit their roles perfectly, and Grumio is somehow adorable, even with his deadpan face, awful accent and terrible haircut! No-one would buy him? I would!
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on 25 April 2013
What a loveable sitcom! I started watching it with the lowest of expectations when I was bored one evening, but it had me hooked within a single episode. This is obviously a show created by hugely talented people.

The five central characters are wonderful. They are:

Marcus: A clever, nervy office clerk who has absolutely zero success with women.

Stylax: His colleague and room-mate. Less cultured than Marcus (his job involves ripping up sheets of paper) he is laid-back, charming, and very much a lady's man.

Grumio: Marcus's lazy, stupid slave. Probably a distant ancestor of Baldrick.

Cynthia: The British girl who moves in next door. An aspiring actress, she's friendly, naive, self-centred, and exceedingly pretty.

Metella: Her sarcastic slave, wider in the girth than her mistress and rather more astute.

There's such a lot to praise here. The writing is sharp. The plots are solid. The actors are excellent. It's fast-paced. And the sets deserve a special mention. In sitcom terms they are truly epic. (One episode includes a gladiatorial arena, complete with spectators.) Even the secondary characters are brilliant comic creations.

The tone is spot-on. Like all the best sitcoms, Plebs maintains a festive, light-hearted atmosphere. It may be mean to its characters, but it is never mean-spirited. No matter what indignities are heaped upon the heads of Marcus, Stylax and Grumio, you feel that Rome in 27BC would be quite a fun place to hang out in anyway.

"The Inbetweeners in Ancient Rome" is how people are describing it, but I'd say that's only semi-accurate. Sure, it involves a group of young men trying to negotiate life, love and sex, and like the Inbetweeners it eschews a laugh-track in favour of a jaunty musical soundtrack. (Ska, in this case.) But Plebs is more stylised, more comical, lighter in tone, better plotted and a great deal more funny. If this doesn't get a second series then we'll know for sure there isn't a Jove. (Are you listening up there?)
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VINE VOICEon 23 September 2014
I turned on Plebs one night on ITV out of curiosity, and it took roughly 4 minutes to become my favourite new show.

If I'd known it featured Tom Rosenthal (Johnny from Friday Night Dinner) and had a lot of the same kind of deadpan, sharp-witted humour from that show, I'd have watched it a lot sooner.

It had me wheezing with laughter every Monday night, with our favourite pleb Marcus (Rosenthal) pining after lovely but painfully thick neighbour Cynthia, our favourite sexual deviant Stylax pining after anything in a dress, and our favourite slave Grumio pretty much being Baldrick in an Ancient Roman setting. Funnier moments include the untimely death of Cynthia's cat followed by the boys' desperate attempts to dig it up because it choked on Grumio's lottery ticket; a very guilty Marcus getting a little more than he bargained for when he tries to set up Cynthia's new gladiator boyfriend (Danny Dyer!) for a fall, and of course Stylax's surprise when he learns that it's probably not socially acceptable to have a lot of sex with his cousin. Our heroes' relentless teasing of the waterboy ("it's waterMAN!") in their workplace is also an enjoyable and anticipated part of every episode.

It's also quite sweet, too; there's a surprising amount of pathos in these three lovable idiots bumbling around and never getting what they want out of life. Excellent writing, great performances - I only wish Plebs was longer than the 6 half hour episodes that is series 1! Can't wait for series 2.
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on 23 April 2013
Enjoyable Roman comedy, most of the jokes perhaps are from the period as well. Slow starter but overall a very watchable first season. Good cast, good laughs, totally daft, realistic set. Hope there will be a second series (and that they bring back George (of George and Mildred)). Certainly the best thing on ITV2 for a while.

The DVD was pretty decent as well with a very enjoyable behind the scenes documentary, some good outtakes, scenery designs and also a plebs quiz. Quite a nice selection of bonus items. A pity they didn't include the pilot episode (I assume, didn't see that in the listings)
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on 25 April 2013
Undoubtedly the funniest programme on TV. Ryan Sampson as Grumio so so funny. great script, superb cast, please commission a second series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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on 23 April 2013
What a brilliant original experience................
Humour is fast moving and acting first class , cannot wait to watch again waterboy , sorry waterman !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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on 7 March 2014
One of the funniest things I've seen for many years and couldn't wait until the night it was on tele each week, when I bought the Bluray I watched all 6 episodes in one night again.....amazing fun
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on 2 October 2013
Really enjoyed this DVD, not much makes me laugh out loud but this is SO funny, can't believe I missed seeing the original series but really glad I've found it now
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on 3 January 2015
Plebs is one of the funniest things on tele. Not to everyone's taste perhaps and some episodes are a bit crude with 'lavatorial' humour which I don't normally like but that's how things were in Ancient Rome I expect. Ha! So many people have never even heard of the series which is unbelievable. I think it it is a very clever idea with boys just the same as they are today. Timeless and I think, classic. Each one of the cast have their own personalities but I only have to look at and hear Grumio and I laugh out loud. Bless him, he is so downtrodden but he is my favourite, especially when he 'adopted' the baby. Love, love, love it.
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