Family Viewing

By Ben Felsenburg

You don’t have to be Jewish to lap up Friday Night Dinner (Friday, Channel 4, 10 pm). you really don’t, not with wonderful Tamsin Greig so regally holding court as Jackie, the formidably indefatigable matriarch presiding over the Goodman household in north London, where once a week sons Adam (Simon Bird) and Jonny (Tom Rosenthal) come back home from the big wide world to share the family meal. Yes, the boys wreak mischief and mercilessly mock their slightly eccentric dad Martin (Paul Ritter), but there’s a gleeful mirth to proceedings, all of it infused with such warmth that you could almost heat your hands by the screen.

And if you are Jewish and grew up in north London, as I happen to be, you may find yourself gently but repeatedly nodding in recognition of certain home truths (not least the focus on food – for my mother, bless her, the first nine refusals to an offer of roast chicken don’t count). It seems the appeal of a comedy blissfully free of nastiness and cruelty is unfading: here we are, seven years on from the show’s debut, and the start of the fifth season. In the opening episode the not-at-all-slightly eccentric neighbour Jim (mark heap) leaves his dog with the Goodmans while he goes out on an unlikely date. No surprise that barking mad mayhem should ensue but there’s nothing predictable as the helter-skelter twists and turns keep on coming. It’s a welcome return for a show that’s become a familiar friend.