Primetime BBC comedy has been stuck in a ’70s groove in recent years, with such laboured, lazy throwbacks as ‘The Wright Way’ and ‘Mrs Brown’s Boys’. This fetishistic nostalgia for some half-remembered grannies ’n’ kids’ tea-time sitcom nirvana reaches a heady low with the return of ‘Citizen Khan’ for another series of toddler-friendly mugging and end-of-the-pier smut.
Adil Ray’s puffed-up paterfamilias and would-be community leader Mr Khan was one of the highlights of R4’s spoof phone-in ‘Down the Line’ and its maligned TV offshoot ‘Bellamy’s People’, but here he’s stifled by a routine family setting and truly appalling gags that don’t so much pepper the script as smother it with lumpy custard. Missed opportunities to celebrate and/or spear cultural attitudes abound, with creaky fallback references to the hokey-cokey, Lulu, bingo, the novelty of men in the kitchen and internet-savvy pensioners flooding in to plug the gaps.
There’s a neat turn from Felix Dexter and a welcome return to telly for Matthew Cottle (the ginge from ‘Game On’), but these are drops in an ocean of twaddle, the depths of which are reached as Mr Khan mimes a selection of farm animals to his – yes, you guessed it – much-despised mother-in-law.