sat 21/09/2019

Boy Meets Girl, BBC Two | reviews, news & interviews

Boy Meets Girl, BBC Two

Boy Meets Girl, BBC Two

Superb new comedy about transgender romance

Rebecca Root and Harry Hepple give beautifully nuanced performances as Judy and Leo

Any romcom that begins with a woman saying the line “I was born with a penis” is OK by me. And that's how Boy Meets Girl, a superb new comedy created by Elliott Kerrigan, begins a six-part series.

Kerrigan and co-writer Simon Carlyle have neatly made broad comedy without causing offence, and thankfully the tone, in what is the first UK television show starring a transgender actress, is never preachy or worthy. Rather the trans storyline – which has been in shows such as Orange Is the New Black on Netflix and Channel 4's Cucumber/Banana – is part of a much broader story about two people, seemingly mismatched, finding love.

Leo (Harry Hepple) and Judy (Rebecca Root) are on their first date in a restaurant after meeting in a bar when that line is delivered. She has transitioned, she tells him, after feeling she was living in the wrong body: “It was like being born in prison and never having a release date.” For Leo, though, the greater cause of concern is that Judy, nearly 40, is “much older” than his 26 years. He's newly unemployed (again) and living at home, where his mother (Denise Welch, pictured below) rules the roost and he knows she will fret over the age difference.

Much of the comedy comes from the couple's families, drawn with great affection by Kerrigan. When Judy's sister Jackie (Lizzie Roper) talks about having an op herself, their hard-of-hearing mother Peggy (Janine Duvitski) misunderstands and thinks that she too is going to transition: “It's gender-bender central around here.”

Leo's family, meanwhile, consists of his builder dad Tony (Nigel Betts), who won't give Leo a job because “You have no people skills and you eat with your mouth open. No offence”; hardworking hairdresser mum Pam; and his layabout younger brother James (Jonny Dixon), who fancies himself as a lothario, chasing “fitties”, and trying to pass on his questionable chat-up skills to Leo.

The transgender element becomes almost incidental over coming weeks as the story turns to how two families cope with their son and daughter falling in love. Director Paul Norton Walker uses the Newcastle setting to great effect, there is real warmth in the writing and the terrific cast are clearly having a blast, while Hepple and Root give beautifully nuanced performances. Boy Meets Girl is a sweet and thoroughly modern love story, and one with a high laugh quotient.

They have neatly made broad comedy without causing offence

rating

Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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