Cornershop Telly Review: The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff

Well, a shopkeeper’s got to have something to watch whilst she is ironing in the back room…
We were rather excited to spot this new and apparently shop-based series on Monday night’s schedule. Good programmes about corner (well, independent) shops are few and far between. And we are, of course, far too young to remember ‘Open All Hours’…
The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff is BBC2’s new Monday night comedy, which evolved out of the apparent success of a Christmas special. A spoof based on any number of Dickensian scenarios, it follows the story of shopkeepers Jedrington and Conceptiva Secret-Past, and the evil machinations of a mysterious new business partner Harmswell Grimstone.
It has such a splendidly appealing title, and it is chockers full of rather talented actors, with Robert Webb (That Mitchell and Webb) playing the eponymous shop’s gullible owner. Would that they had had a script to match….
This is some of the least titifalarious telly we have seen in a long long time. And only the first scene was set in the shop (which admittedly did sell some almost-amusing products). The production grinds embarrassingly on like a dire sixth form end-of-year panto (ashamed voice of experience kicking in here), replete with contrived contemporary references and puerile innuendo. We were sorely tempted to change channel (although the episodes are a mere and merciful half hour long) but in the interests of being able to offer a balanced review we persevered until the end. It offers no real melodrama, real wit or real farce. And no entertainment value. We won’t be tuning in again
Still, at least we got most of our ironing done.