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ITV2’s first new sitcom in years, ‘Plebs’ works on the basis that young single men have always been pathetic and feckless at every single point in history. To prove it, they’ve taken the dynamic of ‘The Likely Lads’ and exported it to Ancient Rome, focusing on three men (two plebs and a slave, technically) desperate to get their ends away.
This should rightly set off alarm bells – ‘Is ITV2 the kind of place to be attempting nuanced historical comedy?’ you might ask. No, of course it’s not. Thankfully, ‘Plebs’ doesn’t try. Instantly reminiscent of Mel Brooks's loose adherence to period and historical accuracy (a la ‘Blazing Saddles’), characters say words like ‘coolio’, ‘legend’ and ‘literally’ as though they’ve wandered in from a WKD advert set at a toga party.
Not that this is some kind of charmless lad-fest – this opening double-bill bursts with originality and thankfully doesn’t feel the need to make cheap historical gags every ten seconds. Miraculously, it even makes great use of Danny Dyer, who dominates in the second episode as a gladiator.