I Want My Wife Back - Funny? You're having a laugh

Ben Miller gets his ear chewed off in I Want My Wife Back
Ben Miller gets his ear chewed off in I Want My Wife Back
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According to my dictionary, the word farce has a couple of different meanings.

The first defines farce as a “comedy of extravagant humour, buffoonery and improbability: a ridiculous or empty show”.

Unfortunately, this first definition does not apply to I Want My Wife Back (BBC1, Mondays, 9.30pm). It’s designed as a sweaty, breathless farce, as Ben Miller’s Murray careers from unfortunate incident to comic caper.

However, the characters are so thin, the situation so contrived, the misunderstandings and misadventures so feeble, that it all falls very, very flat.

The idea is that Murray’s wife (Caroline Catz) has become so fed up with him missing aniversaries, birthdays and Valentine’s Days due to his work that one day she ups and leaves.

The one day she chooses, of course, is the one day Murray has chosen to throw her a surprise birthday party.

He accidentally finds out about his wife’s desertion, and the rest of the episode should be Murray’s hilarious attempts to both cancel the party and – as the title might suggest – get his wife back.

But it’s anything but hilarious. The timing isn’t sharp enough, there aren’t any doors opening or closing in a perfectly co-ordinated way, no one’s trousers fall down, for goodness sake.

The second definition of farce, by the way, is “to stuff, fill with stuffing, to swell out”. This is much closer to the truth, as by the end of it, we’re all well and truly stuffed.

And so is Marcella (ITV, Mondays, 9pm), by the looks of it. Possibly a murderer, definitely a suspect, Anna Friel’s top lip would be wobbling, if it could.

Mind you, almost everyone on the cast list is a suspect, from Marcella, to her ex, to the psycho ex-con, to the spooky Polish lodger, to the recovering Scandi alcoholic.

So far, it seems the bearded baker is the butcher, but this cop drama is so far out there it wouldn’t surprise me if it were Marcella’s pot-smoking daughter on a skunk-inspired spree.