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Outnumbered titles.jpg
The opening title screen from the first episode.
Genre Improvised sitcom
Created by Andy Hamilton
Guy Jenkin
Developed by Hat Trick Productions
Directed by Andy Hamilton
Guy Jenkin
Starring Hugh Dennis
Claire Skinner
Tyger Drew-Honey
Daniel Roche
Ramona Marquez
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 15 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Jon Rolph
Producer(s) Andy Hamilton
Guy Jenkin
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel BBC One
Original run 28 August 2007 – present
External links
Official website

Outnumbered is a British Comedy Award winner and BAFTA winning British sitcom that has aired on BBC One since 2007.[1] It stars Hugh Dennis and Claire Skinner as a mother and father who are outnumbered by their three children played by Tyger Drew-Honey, Daniel Roche and Ramona Marquez. Produced by Hat Trick Productions, Outnumbered is written, directed and produced by Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin, although the show is also semi-improvised. Most of the improvised lines are given to the child characters, in order to make the performances more realistic.[2]

The first series was broadcast late at night, over two weeks. A second series was broadcast one episode per week. The show received mostly positive reviews (particularly in its second series), gaining praise for its use of improvisation and for the use of a laid back, mundane setting.[3] However some criticised the show for not being funny[4] and the BBC for the way the programme was scheduled,[5] although Hamilton was fine with it saying that, "it kept us out of the ratings bunfight of prime time."[6]



Outnumbered is about the Brockman family of South London, whose two parents are "outnumbered" by their three somewhat unruly children. The father, Pete (Hugh Dennis), is a history teacher at an inner city school, and the mother, Sue (Claire Skinner), is a part-time PA.[7] The three children are twelve-year-old Jake (Tyger Drew-Honey), whose life seems fraught with anxieties, from starting at his new school to the world being sucked into a black hole (anxieties which cause his father even greater ones),[8] seven-year-old Ben (Daniel Roche) who frequently tells lies and asks to watch Little Britain,[9] and five-year-old Karen (Ramona Marquez) who asks too many questions.[7][10] Other characters who regularly appear include Sue's new age 44-year-old sister, Angela Morisson (Samantha Bond), and their father Frank (David Ryall), referred to as "Grandad", who appears to be suffering from senility.[11] Outnumbered also uses the popular sitcom device of the unseen character in the form of Veronica, Sue's demanding boss in Series 1. In series 2, the device was used again, but in the form of Sue's new boss Tyson, who is revealed to be a conman and does a runner in the last episode of the series.


Outnumbered is the first collaboration between Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin since Drop the Dead Donkey ended in 1998.[7] It was commissioned by Lucy Lumsden, the BBC Controller Comedy Commissioning. The executive producer is Jon Rolph.[12] Originally a 20-minute long pilot was made, which was given to Lumsden who then commissioned six episodes. The setting for the show is somewhere in South London, and the show was shot on location in Wandsworth.[7] During the second series, the family receive a final demand for council tax from "Limebridge Council", sent to the fictional address of 19 Keely Road, London, W4 2CF which is a Chiswick postcode.[13]

Outnumbered uses improvisation in order to get more believable performances from the child actors. Dennis commented: "In most sitcoms all the lines for children are written by adults. So they are speaking the words of people 30 years older. And you really want kids to have their own voices, and say their own things."[2] Jenkin added: "You rarely get the feeling that children in sitcoms are real. They tend to be the same type of character – the smartarse who says adult things – and they are rooted to the spot, staring at the camera, because they've been told to stand in one place and say the lines. We decided to attempt to do something that hadn't been tried before, bounced some ideas around and we got very keen on this idea of involving improvisation very quickly."[7]

The main characters in Outnumbered. From top left, clockwise: Karen, Ben, Jake, Pete and Sue.



The first episode received 4.1 million viewers (25.5% of the audience share) when it began and finished with 2.8 million (19.5%) at the end, which is larger than the average 2.2 million (14%) normally attracted by television shows at its particular time slot.[14] The audience for the second episode fell by half a million viewers, whilst still being the highest ranking show in its time slot, with 18% of the audience share.[15] However, it maintained a constant audience throughout the first series, with the fourth episode attracting 2.7 million viewers (20% audience share).[16]

The show's reception was mixed. The Daily Mirror found the mundane settings to be similar to the American sitcom Seinfeld, saying that "compared to the ridiculous carry-on of My Family, it's much more low-key and realistic. In fact it's so low-key, nothing actually happens, which could well be a nod to Seinfeld - the touchstone of all great sitcoms. The getting ready for school chaos is like Supernanny: The Movie only with nicer children. It's also taken a leaf out of Curb Your Enthusiasm's book with large chunks of improvisation - although the strongest language you'll find here is "ponk"."[3]

Rod Liddle, writing in The Sunday Times, also praised the show, although he was somewhat surprised, saying, "An exquisitely middle-class, middle-aged domestic situation comedy set in South London – and starring one of those bloody stand-up comics who now festoons every network, it really should be hated before it is even seen. Start liking this sort of programme and you are an ace away from enjoying Terry and June and having a house that smells faintly of weak tea, Murray Mints and urine. So, maybe it's just me, but Outnumbered is very funny indeed: despite its current bout of self-flagellation, the BBC still knows how to make people laugh. Comedy may be the very last thing the corporation does well."[17]

James Walton wrote in The Daily Telegraph that the domestic setting and more mundane storylines were a virtue, saying, "All of this feels both carefully observed and suspiciously heartfelt. More unusually, it’s not contrived. Outnumbered sticks firmly with the mundane, yet manages to be funny about it. It doesn’t avoid the sheer dullness involved in family life either – but, happily, depicts it with a winning mixture of exasperation and affection."[5] He did, however, criticise the scheduling of the programme saying, "Despite the very specific London setting, the series (shown in two batches of three, this week and next) will surely appeal to the parents of young children everywhere. As long, that is, as they're not asleep by 10.35pm."[5]

Criticism of the show came from Kevin Maher of The Times who attacked the quality of the programme, saying it is not funny or dramatic enough. He wrote, "Outnumbered was at its most meretricious. For every exchange between adult and child was hijacked by a crass sitcommy need for sotto voce punchlines and knowing winks to the wings. A protracted scene in which 45-year-old dad (Hugh Dennis) was unable to wrestle a live power drill from the hands of 7-year-old son Ben (Daniel Roche), and instead had to, ho-ho, pay him £5 for the privilege, was emblematic of the show’s dubious capacity for fake pay-offs."[4]

Outnumbered was nominated for the 2008 "Broadcast Award" for "Best Comedy Programme",[18] but lost the award to The Thick of It.[19]

Outnumbered was given the "British Comedy Guide Editors' Award" in The Awards 2007[20] and the "Best Returning British TV Sitcom" in The Awards 2008, beating Peep Show by six votes.[21]

In 2009, Outnumbered won the Royal Television Society Award for "Scripted Comedy",[22] and two Broadcasting Press Guild Awards in the same year: "Best Comedy/Entertainment" and the "Writer's Award".[23] Outnumbered also won 3 awards at the 2009 British Comedy Awards: Best Sitcom, Best British Comedy and Best Female Newcomer for Ramona Marquez.

DVD releases

The first two series and the Christmas special are available to buy on DVD. They have been published by 2 Entertain.

DVD Title Disc # Year Episode # DVD release dates Notes
Region 2
Complete Series 1 1 2007 6 17 November 2008 Includes interviews with the cast and writers
Complete Series 2 2 2008 7 16 November 2009 Includes the Comic Relief specials, out-takes and deleted scenes
Christmas special 1 2009 1 18 January 2010
Complete Series 1 & 2 3 2007 & 2008 13 16 November 2009 Same as individual releases

U.S. version

Fox has announced plans to make an American version of Outnumbered. Larry Levin will act as both writer and executive producer. Bryan Gordon will be the director.[24] A pilot has been made and further scripts are being written.[6] In early 2009, it was announced that the pilot will be broadcast.[25]


  1. ^ "Outnumbered: Overview". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  2. ^ a b Tyers, Alan (2007-08-16). "Hugh not reading the script". The Sun. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  3. ^ a b "Outnumbered". Daily Mirror. 28 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  4. ^ a b Maher, Kevin (2007-08-29). "Last night's TV". The Times. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  5. ^ a b c Walton, James (29 August 2007). "Last night on television: Silent Witness (BBC1)/Outnumbered (BBC1)". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  6. ^ a b Hamilton, Andy (2008-09-18). ""I blame Piers Morgan…": Andy Hamilton Q&A". Retrieved 2008-09-19. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Press Office: Outnumbered". BBC. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  8. ^ "Episode 6". Outnumbered. 2007-08-28.
  9. ^ "Episode 4". Outnumbered. 2007-09-03.
  10. ^ "Press Office: Outnumbered Episode Synopsis". BBC. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  11. ^ "Outnumbered Characters". British Comedy Guide. 2007-08-28. Retrieved 2008-08-22. 
  12. ^ "Press Office: Outnumbered Introduction". BBC. 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-08-22. 
  13. ^ "Series 2, Episode 5". Outnumbered. 2008-12-13. No. 5, season 2.
  14. ^ "News - Outnumbered starts with great ratings". British Sitcom Guide. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 2007-08-29. 
  15. ^ Dowell, Ben (2007-08-30). "Supernanny and Silent Witness take lion's share". Guardian.,,2159092,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  16. ^ Dowell, Ben (2007-09-05). "Hell's Kitchen goes off boil". The Guardian.,,2162827,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-16. 
  17. ^ Liddle, Rod (2007-09-02). "The cheap laughs are the best". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 2007-09-02. 
  18. ^ "News - Broadcast Awards 2008 shortlist revealed". British Sitcom Guide. 2007-12-10. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  19. ^ "Broadcast Awards 2008 - Shortlist". Broadcast Awards. Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  20. ^ "The Awards 2007". British Comedy Guide. 
  21. ^ "The Awards 2008". British Comedy Guide. 
  22. ^ "RTS Programme Awards winners 2009 in full". Guardian. 2009-03-18. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  23. ^ "Broadcasting Press Guild award winners". Guardian. 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2009-03-27. 
  24. ^ Schneider, Michael (2008-02-28). "Fox importing two British sitcoms". Variety. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  25. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (2009-02-09). "Fox to air US remake of Outnumbered". Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-10. 

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Angela: You are a mean, small minded, suburban bitch! Sue: It’s better than a menopausal, hippie chick bitch!

Karen: I know how we can save money! By not buying broccoli!

Pete: Yes but the thing is, Karen, broccoli isn't really expensive.

Karen: Yeah but we don't need it!

Sue: [to Pete, quietly so that children can't hear] There's a mouse in the mouse trap in the loundry room.

Pete: Is it dead?

Sue: ...No, it's doing it's laundry.

Karen: [directed at Sue] She lies and she kills mice!

Sue: So that's five hours in an airport with kids! That's five weeks in normal time!

Pete: Did you get that lady a coffee?

Jake: Yep. And I got me one too. Double esspresso.

Pete: What?! Double esspresso?

Jake:'re always the one who tells me to try new things

Pete: Yes and by that I mean...eating vegetables not taking stimulants!

Jake: Don't worry, I only drank half of it.

Pete: [worried] What about the other half?

Jake: Ben drank it.

Pete: You gave Ben a double esspresso?!

Ben: [more hyper than usual] I feel like lighting! All zingy, zangy, zongy!

Pete: Zingy. Zangy. Zongy. God help us.

Jake: You can see why they call it the dangerous book for boys.

Sue: Eh?

Jake: Karen's just whacked Ben with it.


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