Review: Lucy Beaumont’s To Hull And Back, Radio 2
A lesser talent could have churned out a parody of 50’s kitchen sink dramas here; the downtrodden but proud mother, the big city dreams of a naïve northern lass, yet Lucy Beaumont’s To Hull and Back is fresh, charming, silly and instantly endearing.
The first episode sees 31 year old Sophie (Beaumont) attempting another in a long line of failed attempts to leave the home she shares with her mother Sheila (Maureen Lipman).
With the pair just about getting by through car boot sales and some distinctly odd odd-jobs, a picture is painted of a house cluttered with trinkets and treasures, as her mother seems more than a little reluctant to part with her novelties; a claustrophobic situation mirroring that of Sophie as she tries to escape her home, and her home town.
As more young adults find themselves living with their parents, her story will certainly chime with some, and the emotional consequences of this uneasy living arrangement should make for some entertaining situations.
Sheila feels like a friendlier, less acerbic Hyacinth Bucket; a proud, grounded yet amusingly deluded stalwart who refuses to label herself as poor, and is reluctant to see her daughter fly the nest.
Lipman is a fantastically quirky foil for Beaumont’s dim-witted Sophie; their exchanges are direct, hilarious and eminently believable.
Sophie’s naivety inevitably leads to situations where mum comes to the rescue, but her dopey schtick never seems overused, it only endears you more.
Moments of genuine warmth are blended into the script expertly, and I defy your heart not to bleed when Sophie reveals she finally feels clever enough to meet her absent father.
Then, just as your heart strings have been suitably tugged, it all comes crashing back to reality with a deft one liner.
In all likelihood Sophie won’t escape her home town anytime soon, as her terrible choice of audition monologues scuppers any chance of becoming an actress.
To be honest, you wonder how she’ll make it to another episode in one piece, let alone the end of a series, but this story is the antithesis of patronising, ‘it’s grim up north’ storytelling.
The stoic silliness of these characters in the face of misfortune conjures up the image of eating half an apple and finding half a worm, only to think sod it, at least you’ve still got half an apple left.