We Are Not Alone, review: alien sitcom has out of this world talent but earthbound jokes

Declan Baxter and Joe Thomas in We Are Not Alone - Vishal Sharma/Television Stills
Declan Baxter and Joe Thomas in We Are Not Alone - Vishal Sharma/Television Stills

We Are Not Alone (Dave) is a new comedy from Ghosts' Laurence Rickard and Ben Willbond based on a funny premise. Aliens have invaded Earth and the ones that landed in Britain have chosen to base themselves in “the geographical centre of the land mass”: that’s Clitheroe, the tiny town in Lancashire.

To be exact, their base is the offices of the local council, where the unambitious and exceedingly mild Stewart (Declan Baxter) works as a junior local planning officer.

So that’s the main joke, which makes for an entertaining first 10 minutes. The second joke is that these aliens, who are dressed in cheap suits (presumably to fit in with the locals) and cheap blue wigs (possibly the result of this show having a low budget) are baffled by life on Earth. One of them, played by The Inbetweeners star Joe Thomas, crashes a car every day because he can’t work out how to drive, and when asked to choose a human name – their alien names can only be emitted in a screech that makes humans involuntarily void their bowels – plumps for Greggs because “I’ve seen it everywhere”.

It’s a decent midweek watch, and Baxter is charming as the bewildered lead. “You can’t run the country from here,” he tries to tell his new extraterrestrial overlords. “There are no motorways and parking’s a nightmare.” The aliens (Thomas, Vicki Pepperdine and Mike Wozniak) co-opt Stewart into becoming their liaison officer, tasked with explaining the mysteries of human behaviour to them and doing some ad hoc PR work.

The problem is that the central gag – aliens in a mundane British setting – wears thin quite quickly, and the writers are left casting around for a plot to keep things moving. The aliens become more popular when a video of them goes viral on social media. An underground resistance movement run by an antsy New Zealander and Amanda Abbington breaks into Stewart’s house to demand that he become their man on the inside.

There is a romantic subplot involving Stewart and a barmaid (Georgia May Foote) from his local pub, where life continues pretty much as normal for the regulars despite the alien takeover. None of these storylines get out of second gear, but Baxter’s likeability keeps things chugging along.