In this new series Giles and Sue seek to emulate the self-sufficient lifestyle of Tom and Barbara Good; characters from the 1970s sitcom The Good Life, who, tired of the rat race, turn their north London semi and its garden into a farm.
The first programme sees them ploughing their pristine lawn, building a chicken coop (painted bright pink and given lace curtains by Sue), learning how to milk a goat and – with the aid of only a lemon and a pair of woolly tights – making goats’ cheese.
There’s plenty of the slapstick that their earlier programme The Supersizers… was famous for –squirting milk at each other direct from the udders – and you end up learning just enough about animal care, growing vegetables, cooking and making your own clothes that you feel like you aren’t just watching two people arse about in a garden.
The episodes do feel a bit stretched and if you took out the pointless deviations into topics that have nothing much to do with sustainable living (Giles and Sue for some reason spend some time as the social climbers Jeremy and Margo, golfing, sucking up to the boss and giving twee dinner parties), you could quite easily condense it down into a half hour.
Sue Perkins steals the show with her never-ending stream of wit (including reading out from a 70s gardening guide a list of retro vegetables with risqué names: “What you really want is an old classic like Gardeners’ Fist, Green Shaft, Early Horn and the Big Boy…this is like Viz magazine for gardeners.”) making Giles an irrelevance, and a particularly annoying one at that. Sue wades in willing to get her hands dirty while Giles fops around, terrified of the chickens and sneering at anything that requires him to get off his backside and do some hard graft.
Giles and Sue is what BBC2 was made for – intelligently put together, entertaining and interesting to the viewer with half a brain.