TV Time Machine: Outnumbered

Grace Dean travels back to the noughties classic Outnumbered for our TV Time Machine.

Grace Dean
21st February 2019
The cast of Outnumbered back in the show's heyday

Having already watched that classic Christmassy episode of Gavin & Stacey, I was in the mood to further satisfy my festive cravings with some seasonal viewing I could watch with a cup of tea and the fire on (I must clarify this was back in December – I’m not one of those crazy folk who listen to Christmas songs in February) when the thought of revisiting good old Outnumbered crossed my mind. The Christmas special (there are actually four but the 2009 one caught my eye first) was just as laugh-out-loud funny as I had remembered, and to cut a long story short I ended up binge watching the entire series over the next month. That was a very good decision.

Outnumbered is a brilliant show. The structural elements of the show follow that of a typical family-centred comedy – a mother and father from modest backgrounds living in London and struggling with the perils of parenting and the associated pets, panic and puberty – however, this is where the similarities end. The brilliance of Outnumbered comes from its semi-improvised nature, with Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez to an extent able to influence their characters’ development and behaviour – leading to some very witty one-liners and ultimately a thoroughly realistic portrayal of children’s imagination, naivety and, surprisingly enough, intelligence (Gran: “A woman can be any size or shape she wants.” Karen: “What about a hexagon?”).

Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis delight too in all five series of Outnumbered which documents rather unconventional parenting perils. What do you do if your seven year old refuses to leave your power drill alone? What happens when your very young daughter asks about Al-Qaeda and suspects each passer-by of being a terrorist? Is it worth pulling all your floorboards up to find the missing hamster? And just how should you react if your son tells everyone at his school that you’re having a colonoscopy?

What happens when your very young daughter suspects each passer-by of being a terrorist?


Outnumbered addresses these pressing problems and many more. The success of the show is clear to see, with a total of 35 episodes being produced by Hat Trick Productions for the BBC. The Christmas special from 2016 was a fitting end to the show, with the now teenage (and beyond) children releasing Grandad’s ashes in the woods in an uncharacteristically sentimental turn of events – before a tank from a World War Two re-enactment group invaded the ceremony.

Outnumbered is well worth a [re]watch. I wouldn’t encourage any illegal actions so make sure you have a TV licence before viewing it on BBC iPlayer. Sit down with a cuppa and have a giggle, a snigger and maybe even a little cry.

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AUTHOR: Grace Dean
Editor-in-Chief of the Courier 2019/20, News Editor 2018/19, writer since 2016 and German & Business graduate. I've written for all of our sections, but particularly enjoy writing breaking news and data-based investigative pieces. Best known in the office for making tea and blasting out James Blunt. Twitter: @graceldean

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