The Delivery Man is a brand new sitcom set in a maternity ward and follows the endeavours of Matthew Bunting (played by Darren Boyd) as he swaps the life of a police officer for that of a midwife.
Would it be lazy to draw comparisons between The Delivery Man and Green Wing? They are both offbeat and fast-paced hospital sitcoms. They both utilise an upbeat soundtrack, a variety of camera shots and short, snappy scenes which give the episodes a strange, disjointed rhythm. Elements of both border on the surreal, with extroverted characters and painful social situations. The beginning of the series suggested to me that the new midwife was even to fill the role of Guy Secretan (played by Stephen Mangan) in the sense that he winds up in absurd circumstances due to his flawed communication skills. But this feeling definitely lost its intensity as the series progressed and the narrative began to fall in line with what I would consider a more regular situation comedy. It quickly found its feet.
It may be no surprise to hear that the programme was written by Robert Harley and James Henry, who also wrote Green Wing. This explains a lot for me, but also makes me feel considerably better about the similarities between the two, at least there is no foul play here. It is inevitable that writers will create programmes with similar themes, if they’ve found the area they are best at (and there is no denying that Green Wing is a fantastic sitcom). But if it does feel like Green Wing, it is certainly on a smaller scale, focussing on a small group of midwives and office workers, which allows the comedy to feel far more homely and processable. These two programmes are certainly not the same, and perhaps it is unfair of me to view The Delivery Man with these prejudices.
The onscreen character relationships are endearing as well as hilarious with the conversations between the ladies in the office being quick-witted and a little insane. Tash (Jennie Jacques) and Lisa (Aisling Bea) make a wonderful comic duo as they are both immensely likeable but arguably possess varying levels of common sense (note Tash’s near-hysteria at the arrival of a minor celebrity to the ward in episode four). This, when contrasted against the relative level-headedness of Lisa and Caitlin (Fay Ripley) is well on its way to creating a diverse and multi-layered character dynamic. A stand out performance came from of Alex Macqueen as he adopted the role of rather sinister consultant obstetrician, Luke Edwards. His delightfully odd mannerisms and twisted humour really add to the effects of the group of characters as a whole as well as adding that bit of surreal comic relief that Harley and Henry are so skilled at. Aisling Bea delights us as always with her sweet Irish charm and sharp tongue, making Lisa an integral character for the programme.
It is fair to say I was sceptical when the series of The Delivery Man began, but the excellence of both the cast and the writing has swayed me. This comedy is speedy, ludicrous in places and incredibly well scripted, making it a very enjoyable watch that really came into its own as the episodes progressed.