Lee Mack defends his BBC sitcom after receiving savage criticism

Richard Bevan
Richard Bevan
3 Min Read

Not Going Out creator Lee Mack has leapt to the defence of his long-running BBC sitcom ahead of its Christmas special. The comedian responded to critics who labelled the series as ‘unoriginal and utterly undemanding.’

In an exclusive interview, the 55-year-old comedian, who has written and starred in the series since its debut in 2006, addressed some of the criticism Not Going Out has faced over the years. Lee Mack highlighted the unique charm of British studio sitcoms with a live audience, emphasising their enduring popularity.

“Yeah, we were not in fashion at all. The night before we made the pilot there was a documentary on ITV called The Sitcom is Dead about how the studio-based sitcom is now in the past,” Mack revealed. “There’s something unique about a British studio sitcom with a live audience. And look at the continuing success of Friends on streamers. The main thing I learned is to increase the jokes – American sitcoms just have so many more jokes.”

Lee Mack Addresses Claims Of Being “Unoriginal”

Despite critics labelling the show as ‘unoriginal and utterly undemanding,’ with The Guardian’s Sam Wollaston offering mixed reviews, Not Going Out has consistently attracted a sizable audience, reaching peaks of six million viewers. The show faced a temporary cancellation in 2009, only to be revived due to viewer outcry and strong DVD sales.

Lee Mack has written and starred in the show since 2006.

Reflecting on the cancellation, Mack shared, “It got cancelled perfectly at the right time because the internet was kicking off. Nowadays you get asked to sign something on a weekly basis, but it was quite unusual at the time, and that’s when I realized it was having an impact.”

Addressing the future of the series, Mack stated, “Discussions are ongoing” with the BBC about more episodes. He expressed his eagerness to continue the show, emphasizing that the decision ultimately rests with external factors. “I just wait for someone to say, ‘There’s a bag of money, get on with it.'”

The sitcom, known for its evolving cast and comedic brilliance, has undergone significant changes over the years. Lee Mack remains the sole actor from the original cast, appearing in every episode. The eleventh series concluded in February 2021, with the show now set to air its 2023 Christmas special on December 24 at 10 pm on BBC One.

As for the Christmas special, fans can expect a treat with Lee Mack and Sally Bretton leading the cast in the milestone 100th episode. While the future of Not Going Out remains uncertain, Mack’s passion for the show and its enduring appeal suggest that there may be more laughter-filled episodes to come.

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