664. Bob’s Birthday – Alison Snowden, David Fine

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SUMMARY: A dentist who has just turned 40 experiences a mid-life crisis which undermines his wife’s plans to throw him a surprise party.

WHY IT’S HERE: The downbeat little black comedy ‘Bob’s Birthday’ by Alison Snowden and David Fine is a gem of a film which won the Oscar for its year. The story of a dentist whose midlife crisis reaches a peak just as his wife arranges him a surprise party, ‘Bob’s Birthday’ is a delightful short which was popular enough to inspire an overlooked but equally brilliant TV series, ‘Bob and Margaret’. Retaining the melancholia of this original short but also offering plenty of bittersweet laughs and observations about mid-life, ‘Bob and Margaret’ is an overlooked classic and ‘Bob’s Birthday’ is where it all started. This original short combines elements of Snowden and Fine’s sweet-natured ‘George and Rosemary’ but here the happy ending is more elusive, as Bob and Margaret’s rocky marriage seems at threat from Bob’s unrequited desire for his young receptionist and growing disdain towards their friends. This is not another unfunny caricature of mid-life crises. Rather, ‘Bob’s Birthday’ is a spot-on encapsulation of the painful normality of life and the slow, encroaching realisation that you’ve achieved less than you had hoped to in your younger days. As the voices of Bob and Margaret, Andy Hamilton and Snowden herself are perfectly cast and would continue to excel in these roles in the subsequent series. Snowden in particular is hysterical as the well-meaning but often tactless and exasperated Margaret.

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