As previously reviewed, the first series of Sandylands was a hybrid of Carry On and Donald McGill postcards. Bright, colourful end of the pier comedy full of ‘nudge,nudge, wink, wink’ double entendres. Funny, if lines like “My name’s Swallows, Derek Swallows. Please don’t make fun of my name”, delivered by David Walliams, tickle your funny bone. Funny, if lines like “Welcome to Sandylands Tours, come rain, come shine. Just come” set you chuckling.
The main characters, Sanjeev Bhaskar as Les Vegas (Verma) who fakes his death for the insurance and particularly Natalie Dew as Emily Verma, his daughter who returns to Sandylands for her father’s memorial service, held series one together.
In this second series the writers, Martin Collins and Alex Finch, have thankfully pared back the roles of Bob (Darren Strange) a local taxi driver who, for some unexplained reason, only wears an unbuttoned shirt and budgie smugglers and the duo at Chinos Club, Craig Parkinson as Terry Chino and Martin Collins as his sidekick Wayne. They weren’t so much characters as caricatures. Even the loud and ebullient Tina Taylor, played by Harriet Webb has been thankfully toned down. Simon Bird, however, is still Simon Bird dressed as a policeman.
Enter Les’ estranged wife Donna, played superbly by the very talented Tracy-Ann Oberman. In one stroke the show moved from a Carry On farce to a very enjoyable three part mini-series. Donna has returned to Sandylands, from headlining on cruise ships, to get her hands on Les’ insurance money only to find to her dismay that Les is alive and in hiding. Their backstory is told through a series of engaging flashbacks.
After worming her way back into her husband’s affections and eventually repairing her relationship with Emily the family get some bad financial news. The final episode leaves the door wide open for another series, which would be no bad thing, provided Donna remains an integral character.