The first of BBC Two‘s new comedy pilots, The Other One, centres around two half-sisters who don’t know about each other until their dad dies. Sophie Davies has had a sneak peek…
After the sudden death of her father, Catherine Walcott (Ellie White) and her mother (Rebecca Front) find out that he was living a secret double life, with a mistress (Siobhan Finneran) and another daughter (Lauren Socha) also called Catherine. The half-sisters may share the same name, with one going by Cathy and the other by Cat, but in many ways they couldn’t be more different. The Other One‘s pilot sees Cathy meet up with her dad’s other family to decide where they should scatter his ashes, while her mum tries internet dating in an attempt to move on as quickly as possible.
One of the pilot’s key strengths is its cast. Since starting out in 90s comedies such as The Day Today and Knowing Me, Knowing You With Alan Partridge, Rebecca Front has played lead roles in shows including The Thick of It, Nighty Night, Psychobitches and Up the Women. She recently took on some more serious roles in Humans and War & Peace and has a part lined up in the next series of Poldark. Meanwhile, Siobhan Finneran will be familiar to crime drama fans from Happy Valley, The Loch and The Moorside, plus she was in Benidorm.
As for the two younger women, Lauren Socha starred in E4 comedy drama Misfits and recently had a small but memorable role in Catastrophe. Ellie White has appeared in some of our favourite comedy shows of the last few years including Inside No. 9, Murder In Successville and House of Fools, and she also gave a stand-out performance in The Miser earlier this year.
The cast is far from the pilot’s only strength though. It’s also very well-written, with a script by Holly Walsh who, in addition to being a stand-up comedian, has written for Crackanory and Psychobitches. A lot of laughs come from the gulf between Cathy and Cat’s lifestyles, as the former works in “re-insurance” and is clinically dealing with her grief by watching TED talks, while the latter is a Deliveroo driver who lives right next to a hospital and talks about having “finally completed Tinder.” When Cathy jokingly describes herself as a “risk taker-awayer” her new sister’s enthusiastic response is “oh my god, I love takeaways!”
But this isn’t just a class-divide comedy. At its heart, The Other One is about four women who are grieving the loss of the same man and dealing with it in rather different ways. Whereas Marilyn is remembering him fondly – maybe a bit too fondly as she makes comments to Cathy like “your father was a sexual shire horse of a man” – Tess is clearly feeling bitter and betrayed. The two women do not share a conversation in the pilot, leaving plenty of possibilities open if a series were to be commissioned. Likewise it would be interesting to see how Cathy and Cat’s relationship develops from here, as well as Cathy’s relationship with her wet lettuce fiancé (Amit Shah, Stag). Continuing to sow seeds for the future, a casual remark towards the end of the pilot suggests that the man in all of their lives may have had even more secrets than what they’ve already discovered…
Last year Holly Walsh’s comedy pilot Motherland (co-written with Sharon Horgan, Graham Linehan and Helen Linehan) was so well received that it got commissioned for a full series, which is due to air soon on BBC Two. Here’s hoping that The Other One has the same fate, as it puts four incredibly funny women front and centre, playing well-rounded characters who I for one would like to spend more time with.