Sweet. It’s a word people don’t seem to like, in our dark and cynical times. But sometimes it’s the only word that will do. Like in sitcoms, when there’s a couple who sort of like each other but keep awkwardly not getting around to admitting it. The fools. The sweet, sweet fools.
Tim and Dawn – The Office
The history of romance is strewn with tragically thwarted couples. Romeo and Juliet. Taylor and Burton. René and Yvette. But none of these can compare to Tim and Dawn in The Office
Remember when we didn’t know how it would pan out, and every pained glance Tim gave her across the office floor was like a dagger to our hearts? The way they would slip into fond flirtation based on their shared sense of humour, only to shuffle awkwardly apart whenever Dawn’s monosyllabic meathead of a boyfriend turned up to spoil everything? Argh, it was just so pathetically poignant that you want to ball up on the sofa just thinking about it. Which is pretty good going for a sitcom romance between Jasper Carrott’s daughter and a future Hobbit.
Tim and Daisy – Spaced
OK, this is a controversial inclusion – to the point where many Spaced fans will right now will be as horrified as Tim when he first watched The Phantom Menace. After all, Tim and Daisy are the ultimate platonic pals, right? Despite ironically posing as a couple to get a flat, despite all the surreal hi-jinks they went through together, they never actually get together together. That’s the whole point of Tim and Daisy, right? And yet… come ON.
Think of the final episode’s final scene where they’re curled up on the sofa together, and Tim rests his head on Daisy’s head. It may be unspoken, it may never come to anything, but this is love. And the only reason Spaced never came out and said it is because it’s not a naff US rom-com. Ask Colin the dog. Colin the dog knows.
Laura and Mike – A Fine Romance
Dame Judi Dench is such a queenly presence these days that she’d make the actual Queen look a bit B-list by comparison. Which is why it’s so darn delightful to see her as timid, loveless Laura in this vintage sitcom. The entire show is entirely about her halting, stop-start relationship with a gardener called Mike, who is every bit as socially idiotic as she is.
And it’s not even that they secretly love each other but don’t know how to show it: it’s more that they realise nobody else will have them. Which is kind of depressing, or at least it would be if Laura and Mike weren’t roughly as sentimental as a sack of hammers. This, ultimately, is an ode to settling. The fact that the guy playing Mike (Michael Williams) was actually Judi’s real-life husband makes it all the sweeter.
Smithy and Nessa – Gavin & Stacey
We all know that the really heart-tugging relationship was never Gavin and Stacey. It was always Smithy and Nessa, because they managed to overcome the slight hurdle of massively and constantly disliking each other.
Remember when Smithy stopped her wedding to Dave Coaches? “A lot of the time you repulse me,” he said tenderly, and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. “A lot of the time I find him disgusting,” she confirmed, and it was basically like Gone With the Wind (only without the casual racism). Of course, we always knew they were made for each other, ever since they turned a bucket of KFC into a hot, crunchy gateway to reckless sex.
Compo and Nora – Last of the Summer Wine
Oh, that loveable scamp Compo with his creepy, stalker-ish fixation on Nora Batty! The way he liked to scurry behind walls and clamber on walls to peek at her and/or taunt her in incredibly inappropriate ways! Admittedly, in a real-life setting Compo would clearly have been arrested for his hilarious hi-jinks. But this isn’t real life: it’s basically a slapstick Hovis ad. And that means we’re allowed to smile fondly at his pathological sexual obsession with the uninterested Batty.
Also, Compo did get his just desserts when the sight of Nora in a chorus girl outfit gave him a fatal heart attack. Yep, that really is what happened to Compo. A sudden death due to massive arousal. But it’s OK. It’s sweet.
Kryten and Camille – Red Dwarf
There’s love, and there’s "advanced mutual compatibility". That’s what Kryten found in the shapely form of the female android Camille. There was just one drawback: Camille was actually a vast blob of green slime that looked like something that had dropped out of the Sphinx’s nose.
Touchingly, Kryten saw the inner beauty behind the snot-like exterior, and a touching love story developed – or at least, as touching as a love story between a genetically engineered snot-monster and a robot with a head like a novelty condom can be.
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