Mike Bubbins’ Mammoth deserves to be developed into a series.

Mali Ann Rees and Mike Bubbins in Mammoth
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Let’s accept that a PE teacher on a school skiing trip in 1979 , buried under an avalanche for over 40 years is found and brought back to life in 2021. Why not? All’s fair in love and sitcoms.

The world however has moved on during those 4 decades but by being naturally cryogenically frozen Tony Mammoth, the PE teacher in question, has not. His mind set, memories and lifestyle are still firmly stuck in the lingering age of Glam Rock. Now to make sure we viewers grasp that fact, Mammoth’s clothes, toiletries, address book and car and probably a lot else have miraculously survived those 40 years. How or where they survived we know not but as a visual reminder of the logline Mammoth dresses as if he’s on his way to a 70s fancy dress party.  Not only that, after all those years, he walks straight back into his old job.

Unlike John Simm’s DCI Sam Tyler in Life on Mars or Keeley Hawes’ DI Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes, Mammoth is not unconscious or dreaming: this is reality, well sitcom reality.

In this pilot episode, Mike Bubbins, an accomplished actor and stand-up comedian, has created an interesting character in Tony Mammoth. He is a likeable, understanding and sympathetic teacher looking after the interests of his charges despite the best efforts of his head teacher (who probably wasn’t even born when the avalanche happened) to find every reason he can to undermine Mammoth’s position.

Bubbins has by no means written the best sitcom of the year but it has some good lines, clever moments and is worthy of developing into a series. Mammoth’s interaction with his peer group, who are now septuagenarians of course, has plenty of scope for development, so too does his conflict with the head teacher, as this latter day Lazarus comes to terms with the PC world in which he now finds himself..

Having been many months since his resurrection it’s time for Mammoth to ditch most of the blatant visual prompts; accept that we understand the premise and concentrate on the dialogue or risk the character being seen as an eccentric anachronism. He was a fashionable ladies man in the 70s, he’d be fashionable now.

Mammoth is available on BBC iplayer. Give it a watch.                                                                                            

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