TV Review: Derek Episode 4 - A Beach Outing Warms the Cockles of our Thawing Hearts

So now we're more than half-way through this much-discussed, polarising gentle comedy-thing from Ricky Gervais, and it must be a testament to the power of the piece that each of the main characters feels a familiar presence on our screens.

Derek, Dougie and Kev make it to the beach for some good, old=fashioned fun

While the boys had a day at the beach with some of the residents, back at the ranch the arrival of an old snotty school chum Rebecca was forcing Hannah to reflect on her lot in life. Soon after she'd had to field unfathomable questions on polo chukkas - far too extreme a caricature of aspirant snootiness, surely - she had a worse fate in store for her, becoming the subject of... drumroll.. this week's montage, folks.

Those of you despairing of the twinkly, winkly piano music of previous weeks... all I can say is, careful what you wish for. Because it was replaced this week by... Coldplay, who else? Now I love the plodding tones of Chris and the boys, but really? No one deserves a Coldplay montage outside of London 2012. Is there no bar beneath this will not go? After that, volunteer Vicky's gormless sulk, and Hannah's own foul-tongued punchline came as a breath of fresh air.

Meanwhile, Derek and Dougie were bobbling around on a bouncy castle, Dougie was trying in vain to instruct one of the residents to the idiosyncrasies of swingball, and Derek was helping a snail make its way back to the sea. As for the disastrous swingball, I thought the resident unwittingly made a good point - how CAN this game have ever got so popular with one person always having to play backhand? - and no one demonstrates 'how ridiculous is normal?' better than Pilkington.

With the British sea twinkling in the background (how many days did they have to wait to film that?) and the happy residents basking on deckchairs, it was a great advert for life's simple pleasures, even with the dreadful Kev in attendance, whose only character purpose I can make out seems to be the challenge for goodness he sets for the others, which of course only Derek passes.

On their return, I dreaded that it was going to be Derek, once again, who confounded dreadful Rebecca with some accidentally profound nugget of down-putting wisdom, but Gervais surprised me, giving that privilege to her emancipated mother.

So, all in all, a triumph of an episode, apart from the initial foray into autograph-selling, which veered dangerously into meta-Extras territory, with Gervais unable to resist using the words 'Kerry Katona' in a sentence. The shop owner told Kev about his A-lister picture, "it's less valuable with you in it"... words which the writer of this otherwise sweet gem might want to ponder...

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