“You won’t believe this but I often get branded as camp,” Alan Carr tells us in his semi-autobiographical sitcom Changing Ends.
That’s despite his sports coach dad Graham leading a local football team rife with “big hair, hooped earrings, bum patting at every opportunity.”
Yes it’s the ’80s in Northhampton and young Alan (13 year old Oliver Savell) is the black sheep of his working class family.
Move over, Young Sheldon and Young Rock, it’s Young Alan Carr in his own sitcom.
This coming of queer age tale was co-created by Carr with Simon Carlyle (Boy Meets Girl), and reflects on growing up in the East Midlands during the Thatcher years.
Alan is fittingly full of enthusiasm for Prince, Murder She Wrote and bird-watching, but less enthusiastic about sport and physical exercise. Thankfully he is armed with an array of pithy punchlines to wrangle out of any situation but he doesn’t understand why neighbour Charlie is forbidden from playing with him by Charlie’s mum.
“For every pube I gained I lost a friend…” he laments.
Eloquently described by the neighbours as being “full chips with gravy” young Alan questions why he is treated differently to his peers. Coming to his defence is mum Christine (Nancy Sullivan), whom older-Alan describes as “the wind beneath my wings.”
Not so supportive is blokey dad Graham (Shaun Dooley) struggling to lead his fourth division football team to any kind of local vistory. He doesn’t understand his son’s artful interests and finer pursuits, leaving the conflict between parents as confusing to young Alan.
In the lead role Oliver Savell is suitably exuberant, with never a hint of being a shrinking violet. As mother Nancy Sullivan offers unwavering support without every feeling like she is smothering her son, while Shaun Dooley ticks the box as the uncomplicated, if unworldly, father.
Alan Carr also features sporadically through the show, on-screen not just as narrator, stepping in to reminisce to camera about his trials growing up.
“Is it a crime to enjoy a cream tea?” he asks.
There’s also a soundtrack of synth-heavy 80s music referencing Kylie and assorted pop idols.
Only one episode was offered for preview, so it will be important to expand on the ensemble as a family (Taylor Fay plays younger brother Gary) as the series progresses.
ABC is also offering a New Year’s Day binge on iview ahead of its double episode broadcast.
If you’re a fan of Alan Carr, or Beautiful People and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, this will tickle your funny bone.
Changing Ends double episode 9pm Wednesday on ABC (iview binge from Monday Jan 1).