Peter Kay’s Car Share, one of the most popular recent TV sitcoms returned for a second series, this time of 4 episodes. Despite the fact this series has been on iPlayer since the first episode and the series finale was broadcast on TV a couple of weeks ago, this being the internet I warn again that this review and recap CONTAINS SPOILERS.
Car Share, for the uninitiated, is a sitcom about supermarket workers John Redmond (Peter Kay) and Kayleigh Kitson (Sian Gibson) sharing a car to go to work. Over the course of the first series they grow closer, and there are hints that there is mutual attraction to one another, so we have a “will they, won’t they?” scenario.
As with series one, the whole series was available to watch on BBC iPlayer from the first week, and it still got high viewing figures when it was broadcast on BBC One . Some people chose to watch it all straight away. Personally, I was one of those who chose to wait for the TV broadcast to watch each episode, as it I liked having it to look forward to on Tuesday nights.
Series 2 Recap
Despite the year-long gap between the series, in-universe it’s only been a few days since the end of series one. We start with John listening to ‘Pure & Simple’ on Now 48. Kayleigh calls him, and asks if he’s listened track 2 (i.e ‘Pure & Simple’) yet. John lies that he hasn’t.
Kayleigh has moved in with her sister Mandy, and has to get a bus and then a tram to get to work. John and Kayleigh call each other back and forth, sometimes accidentally, and sometimes their calls cancelling each other out because they are calling each other at the same time. Eventually, John gives Kayleigh directions to his car and gives her a lift the rest of the way. He also gives her a lift back home as it is raining heavily. He meets Kayleigh’s brother-in-law Steve (played by Guy Garvey from Elbow!). John and Steve bond talking about motorbikes. Then John tells Kayleigh he “might have” listened to the CD and will continue to pick Kayleigh up, even though it is miles out of his way.
During the course of the episode he argues with a cyclist after the cyclist rested his bottle of water on top of John’s car. It later turns out the cyclist filmed it and put it on YouTube! It gets 300 views when John and Kayleigh see it, more than John’s band ever has done! By the end of the day it has 8,000 views, and there’s even a different version of the video with added animations, colour filters and mixed with ‘Jump (For My Love)’ by the Pointer Sisters!
In the second episode it was the work fancy dress party. John went as Harry Potter, Kayleigh went as Hagrid, which she didn’t like. The false beard was itchy, and she later says she ended up throwing up in it and losing it in the toilet anyway. Ted2 is dressed as Woody from Toy Story… but with arseless jeans!
After the party, John finds The Incredible Hulk and The Statue Of Liberty shagging on his car! Kayleigh asks John to drop off deli counter worker Elsie as well. Elsie is dressed as Smurfette. In the car, Kayleigh and Elsie are both incredibly drunk. They talk about sour cream Pringles, and Elsie says she spent four hours in A&E on Boxing Day with her arm stuck in a sour cream Pringles tube. Elsie’s catchphrase is “I’m saying nothing”, but she is a massive gossip. We find out from her that a colleague named Joyce Chung apparently has an S-shaped vagina, and that work have been talking a lot about John and Kayleigh and think they are together.
Elsie’s own life isn’t so rosy. Her husband Eddie left her for his physio. Elsie thinks the physio is “just after his benefits and his raspberry ripple badge”.
After dropping Elsie off, John and Kayleigh are about to kiss, but Elsie phones Kayleigh up, saying she’s lost her inhaler. It’s in John’s car, so he has to take it back. There’s only 4 hours until they all have to be back in work too!
Elsie as a character was very like Reece Shearsmith’s character Stink Ray in the first series of Car Share, an annoying work colleague who you’d hate to be stuck in a car with. Conleth Hill, who played Elsie, was brilliant! Conleth Hill has previously appeared in Peter Kay’s Britain’s Got The Pop Factor as Geraldine McQueen’s mother.
In the third episode, John’s band mate Jim calls him and mentions that Kayleigh must be John’s girlfriend, as he drives 45 minutes out of his way every morning to pick her up.
John has to drop off some paperwork to the Wigan store. Kayleigh fancies a day off, so she pulls a sickie so she can join John. She does her best sickly voice on the phone when she calls in, and says “it’s coming out of both ends!”. As luck would have it, another colleague Sandra is off with a bug, so that helps her story. It transpires that she planned doing this before she got in the car that day, as she packed a change of clothes and practically a whole picnic!
Anyway, after dropping off the paperwork, John and Kayleigh go to a safari park. Kayleigh takes a selfie with a mascot in a giraffe costume, but she ends up cutting off its head in the picture. They go through the safari park, see rhinos, lions and monkeys. Then they drive to the beach. John says he has something to ask Kayleigh. After a lot of build up, he asks her… if she wants to join his Christmas team. John is surprised that Kayleigh seems disappointed, but it’s obvious to us, if not to him, that Kayleigh was hoping John would ask her out properly. However, before either can say any more, a stream of yellow liquid comes down the car window. They get out and see a monkey from the safari park is on there! They get it in the back of the car, fastening its seatbelt, and drive back to the safari park, but by the time they get back it’s closed. The monkey also starts pissing everywhere. “It’s like some shit comedy” says John. They call the police, they get the monkey back to the zoo… and the monkey isn’t exactly grateful, he gives John and Kayleigh the finger!
In the final episode, John’s Nan Rose waits in John’s house for a parcel. The postman arrives with the parcel about five minutes after he has left! So his Nan has to wait in the house all day, though there’s quiche in the fridge and Sky TV.
John goes to pick up Kayleigh, and she’s locked in her house. As her key is also the spare key, they’re a bit stuck. After unsuccessfully trying to pick the lock with a hair pin and John standing on top of a wheelie bin trying to pull Kayleigh through a small window, with John ending up falling off, they decide they have no option but to call a locksmith. John pays for it with his debit card. With the locks changed, Kayleigh decides to leave the new key for her sister under a plant pot next to the front door… where she finds the missing spare key!
On the drive home, the Christmas team conversation is picked up again. Kayleigh wants to know where she stands with John. John states that they’re friends, car share buddies, and why ruin that? Kayleigh thought they were something more. John keeps talking about traffic, pop music and at one point is texting. Kayleigh wants John to tell her how he feels. John admits that he felt things he hasn’t in a long time with Kayleigh, but has been hurt before doesn’t want to go there again. Kayleigh tells John he can’t just live by himself in fear. John replies that he doesn’t live in a fairytale like Kayleigh, to which she says “I don’t live in a fairytale John, I just want to be happy!”. She unbuckles her seatbelt, tells John she hasn’t got time to waste, she loves John and it breaks her heart he doesn’t feel the same way, so she’s leaving his car and his life.
At the exact moment Kayleigh has left the car, Forever FM’s DJ announces they’ve received a text request from John misquoting Dirty Dancing (“Nobody puts Kayleigh in the corner”), and the song request is ‘Kayleigh’ by Marillion.
In the traffic jam, John gets out of the car, walks on the other cars, opens the door of the taxi Kayleigh has got in, and tells her he loves her. This is fairly obviously a fantasy sequence, and John is bought right back to reality when he gets a phone call from his Nan asking about the quiche.
I absolutely LOVE the soundtrack. Some of my highlights from it are:
S Club 7 – ‘Never Had A Dream Come True’
Jermaine Stewart – ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’
Enigma – ‘Sadness Part 1’
Gwen Stefani – ‘The Sweet Escape’
The Divynls – ‘I Touch Myself’
Livin Joy – ‘Dreamer’
Urban Cookie Collective – ‘The Key, The Secret’
Kelis – ‘Milkshake’
Spice Girls – ‘2 Become 1’
Madonna – ‘Crazy For You’
Donna Lewis – ‘I Love You Always Forever’
The Pretenders – ‘Don’t Get Me Wrong’
Train – ‘Drops Of Jupiter’
Shakira feat. Wyclef Jean – ‘Hips Don’t Lie’
Neneh Cherry – ‘Buffalo Stance’
Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder – ‘Together In Electric Dreams’
Marillion – ‘Kayleigh’
As a direct result of this show, Now 48 was back in the charts!
A pop video fantasy sequence to S Club 7’s ‘Never Had A Dream Come True’ with Kayleigh miming to it at a post-apocalyptic bus stop, then John comes in on a Monster Truck and wearing a cowboy hat to rescue Kayleigh and drive off into the sunset. I really liked this, and watching it confirmed that Car Share was definitely the show for me!
Another pop video fantasy sequence is Kayleigh singing Madonna’s ‘Crazy For You’, but the plot isn’t the film Vision Quest which ‘Crazy For You’ is from, or even 13 Going On 30 which used it later, it’s the plot of film The Bodyguard the song of that was ‘I Will Always Love You’ by Whitney Houston. Kayleigh is a bit drunk when she’s dreaming about this, so it could be one of those times when two different songs or films get mixed up in your head.
There wasn’t a pop video in episode 3, and episode 4 was Neneh Cherry’s ‘Buffalo Stance’ which was more of a straight remake of the original video.
As always with Peter Kay’s comedy there are a lot of nostalgia references. One was video shops! It’s so strange how stuff can become such a thing of the past. It’s another thing that makes the characters relatable. There was a huge Blockbuster video shop in the very small town I’m from. There was also, as they mention, one of those small video sections at the back of an off licence.
They mention the Crazy Frog, and what a load of shite it was! But it is also something of a nostalgia reference, but in a different way, more like “that thing in the past was weird, what were we thinking, eh?”. Back in 2005 when the Crazy Frog was unfortunately a thing, Peter Kay also had a number one single, in fact the biggest selling single of the year, by appearing the video for the Comic Relief re-release of Tony Christie’s ‘Is This The Way To Amarillo?’. But it is scary to think that so much time has passed for the Crazy Frog to now be a comedy nostalgia reference!
Car Share has so many jokes going on in the background and small moments that make it fun to rewatch.
John tells Kayleigh about how “beer can” sounds like “bacon” in a Jamaican accent and “kipper tie” sounds like “cuppa tea” in a Brummie accent.
The sign for the Shaun Ryder Rehab Centre.
An advert for a new Channel 4 reality TV show: “Miner Celebrities. They’ve finally hit rock bottom”.
A spinning sign, one side says “Hand”, the other says “Job”.
At the fancy dress party, a lot of people are going as Where’s Wally? and Wenda.
A pub called The Dog With Two Cocks. The picture on the sign shows a dog with two cockerels.
When they go to Wigan there’s a place called Pies R Us, the name and logo very similar to Toys R Us.
The Lollipop lady wearing a hi-viz burqa.
This was one of my favourite lines. Kayleigh gets John some garden centre vouchers. “Just need a garden now” replies John sarcastically.
Just a brief moment, but Kayleigh accidentally putting her car seat back while drunk made me laugh.
Kayleigh notices John’s trouser have mud on them, so she spits on them to clean them with a tissue. “Well I’ve got spit on ’em now, haven’t I?” John says.
Kayleigh loves the classic chick flick Dirty Dancing. John’s view is “Why doesn’t he just tell her instead of talking in bloody riddles?”. That was interesting in hindsight. John didn’t take his own advice there.
Peter Kay said on the day the final episode was broadcast that it was indeed the end there would be no more episodes. Given that the episode doesn’t end happily, a lot of fans were upset about it. I personally found it a bit unsatisfying. It’s not so much that it’s a downer ending. The actual final scene between John and Kayleigh in the car is very well played, especially by Sian Gibson. But it feels unfinished. It’s a cliffhanger. I mean, John and Kayleigh are presumably still going to be working in the same place, at least for a bit? It’s also a bit of a damp squib if that really is the payoff.
People who watched ahead hoped that there’d be a different ending in the final televised version, but there wasn’t. I suppose unfortunately it is realistic that people let their chance of happiness just slip through their fingers, but it can’t help but feel disappointing. There are worse ways it could have ended. Like a car crash killing them both off for instance.
No pun intended, but I really think the series had more mileage in it. I get the argument that anything that centres on a “will they, won’t they” story can’t last long, and that they want to go out when it’s still good and leave people wanting more, but I think it’s a shame we never got a Christmas special, that could have been great! I’d say it had another series in it too. It does seem like you can only have two extremes as well, either series which go on for over a decade after they have passed their peak, or series which have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it run.
Peter Kay compared Car Share to ’80s sitcom Just Good Friends, which also centred on a romantic plot. It lasted for what I think Car Share should have done, 3 series and a Christmas special, and it is still regarded as a good sitcom, if perhaps a little bit dated now. Thinking about it though, I do wonder if my liking of Car Share might be because I watched Just Good Friends as a kid. It was one of my mum’s favourite sitcoms, and I watched it with her when it was repeated.
Car Share also reminds me of one of my all-time favourite sitcoms, Spaced, which only lasted 2 series. Its style and tone were pretty different to Car Share, but it also had a lot of pop culture references and centred on a “will they, won’t they” romance which was never resolved. That wasn’t planned as such, more that the cast and crew moved on to other projects, most would go on to make Shaun Of The Dead, and they never got round to making a third series. They did have a small clip later on, showing that Tim and Daisy did end up getting together and had a baby.
However, if the makers of Car Share knew this would definitely be the final series, I think they should probably have come up with something a little less anticlimactic. Look, it’s not so much about the fact that John and Kayleigh didn’t end up getting together, but the way it was done meant it sort of fizzled out.
Still, 10 episodes of Car Share in total and the fact that the events of each series take place so close to each other means it’s possible to watch both series back to back as one whole series if you wish.
The second series was really, really good, even better than the first. It was more entertaining and it felt more like they knew the show and what worked. Car Share was
undeniably one of the biggest hit sitcoms in recent times, one that very much struck a chord with the public, and it’s a shame that they decided not to do any more of it, but there you go.