Liam Rudden: A change is as good as a rest for Plebs, or is it?

The cast of Plebs.
The cast of Plebs.
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SITCOMS are things I tend to avoid these days, mainly because most lack that vital ingredient, laughs.

Thankfully, that can’t be said for Plebs, which follows the lives of three hapless young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city of ancient Rome - imagine a mash-up of Up Pompeii and The Inbetweeners.

Series one introduced us to Marcus, Stylax, and their slave Grumio, played with a seemingly innate understanding of each others reactions by Tom Rosenthal, Joel Fry and Ryan Sampson.

They shared a comic chemistry and physicality witnessed in many of the greats double-acts such as Laurel and Hardy and Morcambe and Wise.

Their exploits in that first series way back in 2013 saw them trying to outwit their dodgy landlord, con their betters and generally have a thoroughly modern ‘ancient’ time.

By the second series they were well established as a comedy three-piece, their relationships cemented through their adventures, which continued, this time around as Stylax, the strongest of the three characters, dreamed of becoming a champion charioteer - despite having never driven a chariot.

Needless to say, the triumvirate were inseparable as they embarked on a mission to get tickets to ‘The Games’ when the series received its third outing.

Absurd, farcical and downright surreal, Plebs worked because of the dynamic built up over the years... then Fry decided to leave.

With roles in Requiem, Ordinary Lies, Game Of Thrones, W1A and Paddington 2 amongst others, he was no doubt in too much in demand elsewhere.

So I was intrigued to see how writers Sam Leifer and Tom Basdon dealt with replacing him in the fourth series.

I found out a couple of weeks back when I got around to watching the latest DVD - out now from Acorn Media International, priced £19.99.

It true Plebs-style they quickly killed Stylax off... squashed him to death with a concrete block dropped by dumb blonde builder Jason.

Plebs has never been a subtle watch and only in Plebs could the character responsible for killing off the shows most loved character become his replacement.

It gave the series a very different feel as the new team bonded over the converting of an abandoned public toilet into Rome’s hottest new wine-bar.

It was interesting to see how depictions of the other characters were adapted to accommodate the loss of Fry - Sampson’s Grumio becoming far more animated.

Like Benidorm, after the first raft of regulars hopped on a flight back to the UK, the focus of Plebs has changed. Is it better? Worse? I might just have to watch all four series again before deciding.

After all, Benidorm has survived multiple cast changes over no fewer than 10 series. Wonder who will still be there in Series 11?