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TV Review Peter Kay’s Car Share: The Finale: I was left feeling a bit like a hedgehog on a motorway

PUBLISHED: 16:17 30 May 2018

Peter Kay's Car Share: The Finale (C) Goodnight Vienna Productions - Photographer: Goodnight Vienna Productions

Peter Kay's Car Share: The Finale (C) Goodnight Vienna Productions - Photographer: Goodnight Vienna Productions

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The finale of Peter Kay’s Car Share finally gave viewers an answer to John and Kayleigh’s will-they-won’t-they romance. But did it hit the mark? CONTAINS SPOILERS (and I’m not talking about the ones on the Fiat 500).

I thought long and hard about writing this review based on the fact I expect 99 per cent of Car Share fans will disagree with me and I’m about to be off for a week and I’m not sure I’m ready for the stream of emails: by now I will have signposted the fact that I didn’t love the last-ever episode.

I almost reviewed something else. But then I remembered the Out of Office function on my email account and decided to press ahead.

Peter Kay bowed to popular demand after a petition followed the other ‘last-ever episode’ which had seen car sharer Kayleigh admit her feelings for car owner John after two seasons of tantilising will-they-won’t-they flirtation which most of us will recognise from an episode in our romantic past.

As the credits rolled, we realised the roulette wheel had come to a standstill on “they won’t” when emotionally-illiterate buttoned-up John was entirely incapable of returning Kayleigh’s feelings and their budding romance stalled, broke down and ran out of gas.

But the public wouldn’t have it. A petition was raised and viewers demanded that Kay and the team write a “proper” ending which would see Kayleigh and John ride off into the sunset together in the latter’s Fiat 500 – and when we heard there would be a one-off finale, few of us would have stuck a tenner on Kay not allowing the star-crossed lovers to get together. Anyone who did would have lost their cash. Kind of.

Of everything that Kay has written, it’s Car Share I’ve enjoyed the most, although to be fair, that’s not saying a great deal.

I’m a fool for a visual gag, I love gentle comedies that don’t rely on cruelty to get a laugh (God, I’m getting old), I liked the low-key premise and Kay and Sian Gibson, who plays Kayleigh Kitson, have genuine chemistry that even a black-hearted cynic like myself can recognise as the real thing. I’m also considering buying my daughter a Fiat 500, so it’s handy to see one in action (I might let her get away with only having four fixed cameras rather than Kay’s five).

I could sit through entire episodes of Car Share quite happily – unlike Phoenix Nights – and therefore told myself after the hit-and-miss improvised episode earlier in the month, I’d be sure to enjoy the finale as it involved all the things I like about the show as listed above PLUS romance, which I like best of all (genuinely, I am turning into my Nan).

And I suppose it was OK. But was it really “one of the highest achievements of 21st century TV comedy” (Mark Lawson writing in The Guardian)? Er…

Written jointly by Kay, Gibson, Paul Coleman and Tim Reid, the final episode began with John handing a package to the lead singer of Elbow which contained a song he’d written as an apology to his Kayleigh. As he drove away with his passenger seat empty, she made her way to the bus and opened her parcel: a Walkman with a cassette and an instruction to press play.

“Come back my Car Share buddy…please won’t you let me be your ride?” – as Kayleigh listened to the song, she imagined John as Gary Barlow in a Take That video, complete with knee sliding, wet shirt and synchronised dancing, and presumably realised that her lift to work was probably back on again.

Back in the car, the pair kind-of talked about their kind-of future romance and about the wedding of two workmates at Christmas which hinted that Car Share might be back yet again, this time without the need for a petition, although all the heavy-handed comments about John’s desire for “privacy” in the episode (Kay is notoriously obsessed with keeping his private life private) suggest that we won’t be able to ask if this is the case. Fair enough, we don’t own him.

Several scenes dragged on for too long (finding the spare change, the chat about wedding invites) meaning the ending, where surely ALL of us expected a kiss for the 100,000-strong signatures, felt a bit rushed after the hedgehog rescue and car smashes which, to be fair, did make me laugh out loud. Was a suggestion of romance and hand-holding on the bus enough?

I’m notoriously, ridiculously emotional about happy endings and although the finale offered one, it was so subdued that it felt somewhat of a hollow victory – all those jokes Kayleigh made about babies and marriage and moving in, book-ended with “I’m joking!” but still an example of what so many men think about women: that if you give them an inch, they’ll be picking out his and hers pillowcases on Etsy in a heartbeat. In short, I wasn’t moved. I wasn’t overjoyed. I wasn’t warm inside. I just felt a bit like the hedgehog would have had Kayleigh not stepped in to save it: flat.


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