This review contains spoilers
Could the endless revivals of the 1980s and 1990s finally be over? Based on the opening to BBC One’s new sitcom, The Power of Parker, both decades deserve to be banished to Room 101. Here we are, being walloped in the face with a cheesy TV advert for a Stockport electrical shop in the no-man’s-year of 1990. “Breville toaster!’ Camcorder for dad! Treat the wife to the latest state-of-the art vacuum cleaner!” How did women back then actually function?
Co-writer Sian Gibson, such a delight in Peter Kay’s Car Share, proceeds to slyly unpack that question with humour and heart. The characters are so rich and vividly drawn, we know instantly who the antagonist is: Martin Parker (played by Conleth Hill), the bouffant-haired owner of Parker’s Electricals, and pointy-fingered purveyor of “the cheapest prices this side of the Pennines”.
This sharp-suited social climber, who has a snazzy carphone and designs on the Rotary Club, is ambitious, rude and sexist. He is also cheating on his wife Diane with Gibson’s saucepot hairdresser Kath, and in trouble with some sketchy locals to whom he owes money. This means that he can no longer afford the flat in which Kath lives, forcing her to move in with Gladys (the wonderful Sheila Reid) at the local care home. And so, we’re off, motoring along on a nostalgia trip of blue mascara, Archers and Rumbelows, filled with the kind of quick-fire gossipy asides that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Victoria Wood sketch.