Review: Outnumbered: Series Five: Episode One

Written by Ellie Kumar

Outnumbered, the BBC sitcom which resonated with families all over Britain began its fifth and final series on Wednesday evening.

Outnumbered, the BBC sitcom which resonated with families all over Britain began its fifth and final series on Wednesday evening. We returned to the Brockman family’s hectic household where Mum and Dad (Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis) were as tired and exasperated as ever, battling technology, political correctness and their children’s disdain.

Whilst not failing to engage the audience, there was a distinct lack of comedy in the show as it struggled to find its feet with older, less madcap children.

The back and forth between the parents can be funny at times, but after a while begins to grate. Sue’s email mishaps have been seen in previous series and while running jokes can often re-entertain an audience, this time it hasn’t been updated at all so the humour is lost as we can predict what’s going to happen.

Hardly anything new

Oldest son Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey) is still sarcastic, sullen and stereotypical, and adds nothing new to the episode—a teenager with a secret tattoo – what a surprise. Angry, disapproving parent – yes, yes we’ve seen this tableau before. It’s over-done and the audience is ready for something with a little more wit.  

The biggest disappointment unfortunately is youngest daughter Karen, played by Ramona Marquez. Once the comical star of the programme—the blunt, curious but ultimately sweet little girl has become a vindictive, sulky teenager whose mean comments are at odds with her original character.

It’s true, the precocious five year old of series one could have never worked as an eleven year old secondary school pupil, but the writers have stripped her of all her old charm. Her witty put downs and awkward, unrelenting questioning was the highlight of the show in earlier series, she’s just not funny anymore.


That’s not to say there aren’t any funny moments—middle child Ben (Daniel Roche) has rocketed up to tower over the rest of the cast but the unruly daredevil is still as mad as ever, though now he is more likely to break the windows with his singing, rather than his crazy antics as he auditions for the lead role in the school musical—Spartacus. Cue enthusiasm for attacking the other students with tridents, killing Romans and Pete’s admiration of Kirk Douglas’ chin. 

It is a picture of modern family life, worrying about the kids – are they happy? Are they settled in school? How infected is Jake’s tattoo? It’s not that the show isn’t good—the portrayal of family tensions is brilliant and so believable that sometimes you forget this isn’t a scene from your own kitchen.

Sue’s interfering concern for her daughter is something every parent will understand and her misguided meddling is amusing for the audience, who know it will never be appreciated. It’s just a shame that the writers haven’t managed to pair the relatable realism of the show with the witty humour it used to have; hopefully this is something that will develop through the series and bring it back to the award winning comedy it once was.

After the BBC’s disastrously unfunny offering from comedy legends Reeves and Mortimer in House of Fools, it seems there is a lack of fresh British comedy on our screens right now. With hit American comedies Brooklyn Nine NineThe Big Bang Theory and the final season of How I Met Your Mother all crossing to our shores with brand new episodes the BBC needs to give us something more than remakes of classics and under par sitcoms. 

Outnumbered Episode 1 is available on iPlayer now. Have your say on Outnumbered in the comments section below.

Image: BBC