Sky are currently waist-deep in new comedy, but now last's year supermarket sitcom Trollied (one of the first shows to launch Sky's recent home-grown initiative) is back for a run of 14 episodes, including a hallowed Christmas special. As before, I confess to finding this show pleasant and amusing, if rarely laugh-out-loud funny or very intelligent. I could miss a few episodes and wouldn't be bothered in the slightest, or feel a desire to catch-up with what I've missed, but it fills a thirty-minute gap nicely if you chance upon it.
Series 2 offers minor changes to the show's basic setup, but nothing momentous. Manager Gavin (Jason Watkins) has been promoted away from the store and his besotted deputy Julie (Jane Horrocks), so his position's now filled by hardnosed Lorraine (Stephanie Beacham—channelling Dragons' Den's Hilary Devey). As a former star of Dynasty, one expected Beacham to bring something of a super-bitch vibe to proceedings, but the potential for that evaporated fairly quickly. Lorraine's just pragmatic, straight-talking and "northern". Although she gladly suffers fools, as her kid gloves treatment of dimwit shelf-stacker Leighton (Joel Fry) proves. It felt like a waste of Beacham's currency, although I can't blame the actress for wanting to avoid the trappings of her most famous soap role.
What works about Trollied is its innate likability, which bleeds from every pore and often covers up weak jokes or comic situations that fail to take-off. The cast are also an impressive grab-bag of character actors, each elevating the iffy material with minimal effort: there's Mark Addy as irritable self-appointed lothario butcher Andy, Rita May as dotty Margaret, Carl Rice as grubby shirker Colin, Faye McKeever and Lorraine Cheshire as two gossiping customer service girls... and there isn't a weak link amongst them, really. Even the second tier or background characters are comprised of decent comic actors like Jo Enright and Bread's Victor McGuire (glimpsed as a lazy security guard). There's even heartfelt drama at times, mostly from the Office-style "workplace romance" between butcher's assistant Kieran (Nick Blood) and cute checkout girl Katie (an unrecognisable Chanel Cresswell from This is England '86)—whose chemistry may never amount to anything now Kieran's married and Katie's got her eye on an escape after university.
If you're after undemanding and unpretentious comedy the whole family can sit down and enjoy together (well, give or take the odd crude joke and sexual situation), it's hard to fault Trollied. The only oddity is the 9pm timeslot, because this feels like a pre-watershed show someone's inadvisedly bolted a few coarse jokes to. Did we really need this premiere's sex scene and footage from a dirty movie?
The cast make everything slip by pleasantly (particularly Horrocks and Addy), while the production brilliantly replicates the atmosphere of a budget supermarket in the north-west of England. (Although it's noticeable just how little the staff interact with customers, which is surely limiting masses of comic potential.) It's a shame the writing for Trollied isn't sharper or more inventive, because the show has a complacent and humdrum tone, but it certainly captures a few flavours I like the taste of, and has one of the most welcoming ensembles on TV.