In my quest to learn as much as I can about the UK through the medium of television, I recently happened upon a sitcom which was both entertaining and culturally enlightening. Well, “enlightening” might be an exaggeration, but it did fill in some gaps for me concerning life in the northeast of England. And I didn’t even have to watch Geordie Shore, thank God.
In Hebburn, we get acquainted with the Pearson family plus a few of their friends who all live in this small town “where dreams come to die.”
As the series begins, Manchester journalist, Jack Pearson (Chris Ramsey) is taking his girlfriend Sarah (Kimberley Nixon) home to Hebburn to introduce her to his family for the first time. We get to meet the whole Pearson clan right along with Sarah – tough yet doting mother, Pauline (Gina McKee); father Joe (Vic Reeves), fond of corny wordplay and in need of relaxation; sister Vicki (Lisa McGrillis), frivolous, vain and lives by the words of Cheryl Cole; and outspoken and eccentric granny Dot (Pat Dunn). But why don’t you just see for yourself…
Sarah and Jack have a secret that soon gets out – the two were married on a drunken weekend in Vegas. Not long after that bombshell is dropped, Jack learns his book deal has fallen through just after he unceremoniously quits his job. That’s right you’ve guessed it – the young couple must return to Hebburn to live until they can get back on their feet.
Add to the close quarters Pauline’s sincere desire to be sensitive to Sarah’s Jewish heritage and the atmosphere in the house gets a little meshuga.
I enjoyed my time spent in Hebburn. I like the way they call everyone “pet” and “flower”, the fact that fancy dress for Vicki means a bikini and some theme-based accessories and that “there’s always an argument at a Geordie wedding. It’s nearly the law.”
If you’re a fan of Gavin and Stacey I think you’ll see some parallels, aside from the fact that both shows were directed by Christine Gernon. There’s a real sense of place and plenty of quirky characters. (Watch it and tell me Vicki’s friend Denise (Victoria Elliott) doesn’t remind you of Nessa.) But the biggest similarity is that no matter the problems they face, family and friends are all that matter in the end. Isn’t that right, pet?