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28 October 2014

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Blessed

Ardal O'Hanlan in Blessed

A decade after his last BBC One sitcom (The Thin Blue Line), during which time he'd moved on to penning smash hit West End musicals, Ben Elton returned in 2005 to the TV genre that he'd already mastered with The Young Ones and Blackadder.

His new project, Blessed, was a more domestic scenario and starred Ardal O'Hanlan and Mel Giedroyc as married couple Gary and Sue Chandler, who are struggling with bringing up their babies, especially in contrast to their depressingly perfect neighbours Bill and Mary (Robert Webb and Sally Bretton), for whom parenthood seems to be a breeze.

Bill and Mary from Blessed

On top of their home troubles, Gary gets no respite in his day job as a music producer, mainly thanks to his oddball ensemble of session musicians (stoner guitarist Ronnie, singer Vicky and drummer Styx), who show no sympathy but are busy drowning in their own relationship problems. 

The show had a curiously different feel from any of Elton's previous sitcoms, no doubt in part because the writer this time took on directing duties too.

Also unlike his previous shows and perhaps reflecting a trend in the wake of The Office, the decision was taken not to use a laughter track but to replace it with musical stings akin to the style of many hit American comedies.

Gary and Sue from Blessed

The high production values suggested the show had lofty ambitions but unfortunately they weren't matched by the jokes and the finely crafted trademark Elton rants (which Rowan Atkinson had delivered so brilliantly in Blackadder) somehow didn't gel when voiced by O'Hanlan's portrayal of Gary.

 The result was a rare misstep for such a giant of British comedy and despite rumours of a second series, Blessed ran for only a single series.

Cast

Robert Webb
Bill
Ardal O'Hanlon
Gary
Mel Giedroyc
Sue
Rowland Rivron
Styx
Michael McKell
Ronnie
Hannah-Jane Fox
Vicky
Ray Panthaki
Lance
Sally Bretton
Mary

Crew

Ben Elton
writer
Ben Elton
director
Lucy Ansbro
producer
Henry Klejdys
producer
Phil McIntyre
executive producer

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