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Not Going Out is a pun-heavy British sitcom starring Lee Mack that first ran from 2006 to 2014, followed by a one-off special in 2015 before resuming from 2017 to the present.

The show originally focused on Lee, a perpetually unemployed layabout who prefers to spend his time hanging around with his best friend, Tim (Tim Vine), rather than finding meaningful employment. In the first series, Lee rents a room from Kate, Tim's American ex-girlfriend. From the second series, Kate is replaced with Lucy (Sally Bretton), Tim's younger sister, a consultant with whom Lee shares a combative will-they-won't-they relationship.

Supporting characters during the show's original run included Barbara (Miranda Hart), Lucy's cleaner who never seemed to do much cleaning, Daisy (Katy Wix), Tim's Cloud Cuckoolander girlfriend. Cast turnovers during this time saw the departures of Barbara and Tim and the arrival of Toby (Hugh Dennis) and Anna (Abigail Cruttenden) a posh couple who spend most of their time sniping at one another and find themselves getting sucked into Lee and Lucy's lives.

After a brief hiatus following Lee and Lucy's wedding in the 2014 Christmas special, the show returned with a significant Retool and an eight-year Time Skip to focus on Lee and Lucy as a married couple with three children and the promotion of Lee's dad, Frank, and Lucy's parents, Geoffrey and Wendy, to major supporting characters alongside Toby and Anna.

Select episodes can be seen on Lee Mack's YouTube channel.

This show contains examples of:

  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Parodied/subverted. At Kate's insistence, Lee reluctantly agrees to see a Californian therapist for one session. After answering her questions with his typical hurricane of witty quips and innuendos, she says she'd like to talk about his mother, leading to this exchange:
    Lee: Oh, here we go.
    Therapist: What?
    Lee: This is all the mum-fancying stuff.
    Therapist: I never suggested you fancied your mother.
    Lee: What, you saying she's ugly?
  • Almost Kiss: Lee and Lucy have one of these.
  • April Fools' Plot: This is revealed in the episode where Lucy fakes a pregnancy scare after she finds Lee masturbating in her bath.
  • Artistic License – Physics: The episode "Coffin" focuses on Lee being buried alive. He is able to breathe perfectly fine after being nailed inside a coffin for over four hours and can still get mobile phone reception (albeit with the occassional interference). In the first case, Carbon Dioxide poisoning should have made breathing difficult after about three hours. In the second case, phone signals can be blocked by only a few inches of soil. One of the people facetiming him even Lampshedes this fact by asking what network he is using (Saying that the coverage is phenominal!). Another point is that Lee's friends and a priest are able to unearth coffins in barely a minute instead of half-an-hour to an hour.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Toby and Anna have a miserable marriage. Most of their onscreen time is spent lobbing potshots at the other.
  • Bedmate Reveal: After Lee and Lucy get blind drunk on potato hooch.
    • A variation in Lee's dream when he's in a coma (his dad shows up between him and Lucy twice)
  • Bad Job, Worse Uniform: 'If there's two things I love it's handing out leaflets and looking like a nob! Who would have thought there'd be a way to combine both?'
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: Tim recalls the plot of a slasher film when the four get lost in the woods on a camping trip.
  • Back for the Finale: Tim
  • Big Damn Kiss: An absolutely massive one (complete with a Glomp) from Lucy after Lee proposes.
  • Bottle Episode: There have been several bottle episodes so far.
    • "Skiing" was set entirely in a cable car.
    • "Plane", in which Lee thinks there is a terrorist attack whilst on the titular plane
    • "Lucy" was set entirely in the bar.
    • "Escape Room" was set entirely in an escape room
    • "Parachute" was set entirely on board a plane right before the entire main cast take part in a charity parachute jump.
    • "Memory", "Resolutions" and "War" took place entirely in Lee and Lucy's sitting room, while "Beep" takes up the whole ground floor of the house.
    • "Jury" is set in a small room where the members of said jury make their decision.
    • "Hospital" only features a single ward.
    • "Coffin"...well...speaks for itself.
    • "Train" only has a single compartment in it.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick
  • Breathless Non Sequitur
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Lucy
  • Camp Straight: Tim
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Prior to "Lucy", Lee masks his attraction to Lucy under heavy layers of sarcasm and it takes a Batman Gambit to get him to confess his feelings.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Kate.
  • Ceiling Banger: Lucy with a noisy neighbour.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Lucy mentions Cannon & Ball in one episode. Bobby Ball plays Lee's dad.
    • And Tommy Cannon appears in the 2014 Christmas Special as the vicar at Lee and Lucy's wedding. Cue an Actor Allusion about Bobby Ball's braces.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:Barbara after Series 3(Due to the filming of Miranda Hart's sitcom) and Daisy between Series 7 and 8. And Tim when the show transitioned into a family sitcom
  • Class Clown: Lee
  • Clear My Name: What Lee has to do when caught in the company of a prostitute (unknowingly)
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Daisy.
  • Consummate Liar: Lee, and Frank. And Toby as part of his plan to get Lee and Lucy together. Even he's surprised at how good he is.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Amy (Series 3 Episode 3), Betty (Series 4 Episode 5), Debbie (Series 4 Episode 2), Guy (Series 2), Stretch (Series 5 Episode 1), Paul (Series 6 Episode 1), the psychotic upstairs neighbour (Series 3 Episode 7), and of course Tim all appear at Lee and Lucy's wedding in the 2014 Christmas Special along with flashbacks to their most memorable scenes.
    • The last ten minutes of the 2014 Christmas Special are pretty much nothing but flashbacks to funny and heartwarming moments.
  • Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Lee, when he's not untying flowers from lamp posts...
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: "Christmas Shopping" has the cast getting trapped in a store with an armed robber who has smashed their phones. At the end it turns out Frank had forgotten he had a phone in his hat.
  • Cover Innocent Eyes and Ears: Kate with the plush monkey
  • Crossover: One episode saw Lee and Daisy participate in Pointless.
  • Curse Cut Short: Several:
    • Subverted in a series 3 episode, where Lee said "f-" before the opening titles interrupted him. After the opening, the scene picked up where it left off: "-uck."
    • Lucy ends an episode telling Lee, "You can be a real c-" *closing titles*
    • Another episode ends with Lucy saying to Lee " can get f-" *closing titles*
    • Lee calls his Dad the same thing during a roller coaster ride, but is cut short as they plummet down a slope.
  • Daddy's Girl: Lucy
  • Daddy DNA Test: The plot of one series 4 episode, where a 20-year-old girl arrives claiming Lee might be her father... only for it to transpire that her mother slept with Tim in the same week. It turns out her real father is a third man from the party they were at, who had been the subject of a Running Gag throughout the episode.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Everyone to an extent.
  • The Diaper Change: 'Give it a good scrape first'
  • Disappeared Dad: Lee's dad Frank
  • The Ditz: Daisy to hilarious extremes
  • Dirty Old Man: Lee's dad Frank
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Betty attacking Lee in "Fireworks".
    • A slightly different take to usual, as Betty is elderly, frail and clearly has dementia.
    • Averted with Miranda Hart's first appearance as an acupuncturist, which sees Lee attacking her as a background joke.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: In the 2017 Christmas Special, Lee and Lucy are furious to find out Frank carelessly brought the kids a trampoline from a dodgy man in a pub (who apparently stole Toby and Ann's gift for their kids), with Lee comparing him to a cuckoo. Frank of course is quick to snap back that the only reason they're embroiled in the problem in the first place is because they acted like cuckoos themselves and stole it from him in their own dimwitted scheme.
    Frank: Alright, Bill Oddie!
  • Enormous Engagement Ring: Lucy is taken aback by the massive and expensive diamonds her slightly dodgy nightclub-owning boyfriend has given her as a sort of engagement gift. Her cynical and jealous flatmate Lee suggests this is all a scam to get otherwise chargeable jewellry through Customs for free as Lucy and her man are off on a dream holiday.
  • Episode on a Plane: "Plane"
  • Exact Words: Lee's way of remaining honest while engaging in duplicitous schemes
  • Face Doodling: Tim does this to female relatives when drunk.
  • False Reassurance: 'All I'm trying to do is clean up'- Lee tricking Tim into thinking he wants Lucy out the flat to wash a wine stain when in fact he's renting it to a (porn) director as a set.
  • Faux Yay: Lucy thinks she's offended a gay man she fancies, so she gets Lee to pretend to be gay so she can show how tolerant she is:
    Lucy: Oh come on! I'd do the same for you! I mean, I can't think of any situation in which me pretending to be lesbian would help you at all...
    Lee: No, me neither.
  • "Fawlty Towers" Plot: The lies piled up in this episode:
    Lucy: What lesson have you learned?
    Lee: To always be honest and truthful. Now, get out there and pretend I'm blind, Tim's disabled, Daisy has amnesia and you've got Tourette's.
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Lee is constantly between jobs and prefers hanging around the pub rather than doing any work, but is still able to afford a room in a very pricey section of London.
  • Gargle Blaster: Potato Hooch
  • Genius Ditz: Daisy - who once in a while does something brilliant, like rescuing Tim and Lee from a psychopathic drug dealer. Or putting all Lee's money on a horse on a whim - and winning at enormous odds, thus rescuing him from an evil clown to whom he owes a lot of cash. It makes sense in context.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Lee and Tim frequently invokes this when a Lesbian couple moves downstairs.
  • Grand Finale: The 2014 Christmas Special was set up to provide an endpoint to the show, with shedloads of flashbacks, cameos by notable guest characters, the return of Tim, and a very conclusive ending to the Will They or Won't They? between Lee and Lucy. The show ended up coming back with a significant Retool.
  • Guys are Slobs: Lee
  • Hesitation Equals Dishonesty: Lee accuses Lucy of being dishonest when she hesitates over questions about her relationship with Amy. When she throws it back at him questioning him about his relationship with Tim and he hesitates he brushes it off by saying he was sickened by the suggestion.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One recurring plot element involves Lee blundering into trouble and making things worse for himself in the end when his attempts to cover things up fall apart.
  • Home Porn Movie: Lee and Lucy believe they've made one.
  • Hurricane of Puns
  • I Have This Friend: Lee uses this to talk about his genitals in two separate episodes.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: Stretch uses it to charm Lucy
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: At least once a minute.
  • Innocent Innuendo: When Lucy mentions she's planning to stay in with a bottle of wine and a "Chick Flick", Lee imagines it a completely different way.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Lee pops up during an experimental moment between Lucy and Amy
  • I Object: Played for laughs twice in quick succession at Lee and Lucy's wedding in the 2014 Christmas Special. The first is Tim arriving at the last minute to take his place as Lee's best man, and the second is Frank getting petulant about no longer being the best man.
  • I Resemble That Remark!:
    Tim : (reading a question from a personality quiz) Are you the kind of person who jumps into decisions without properly considering all the available options?
    Lee: (firmly) No.
    Tim: Hang on, it's multiple choice.
  • It Runs in the Family: 'Who would have thought that an aptitude for scrounging was hereditary?'
    • Lucy and Geoffrey have both threatened to wear Lee's testicles as earrings.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: Tim
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lucy frequently gives Lee grief about how he acts towards and treats his father, and she's probably right to. But in Lee's defence, his dad has treated him with even less consideration and care for most of his whole life. A few times putting up with Frank herself, and Lucy does seem to get where Lee is coming from.
  • Joke Exhaustion: If anyone tries to make a serious point to Lee Mack, his stock response is to return with a blizzard of obfuscating one-line jokes and wordplays. His co-star Tim Vine is a comedian renowned for his ability to create one-line non-sequeterial jokes practically instantaneously.
  • The Klutz: Barbara, who manages to break something every time she cleans.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Lee and his dad are very similar in how they act, as much as Lee would like to think otherwise.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Lee and Lucy naturally evolve into this, justified as they have lived together for seven years they even lampshade it in the episode concerning the Potato Hooch drinking binge in series five:
    Lucy : (annoyed) Hang on you're my lodger, when did you suddenly become my husband?
    Lee: (deadpan) Yesterday or can't you remember?
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Lee pretends his son's name is George whilst he's trying to convince a drugs counselor of his existence. The name 'George' comes from the (female) counselor's shirt.
  • The Load: Daisy is this in the finale of series 6. The entire episode centres on her, Lee, Lucy and Frank being trapped at sea. Almost everything that makes things worse is her fault.
    • Of course, Daisy and Barbara tend to be this most of the time.
  • Lazy Bum
  • Loser Protagonist: Most of the cast to some degree, though especially Lee, the one mainstay throughout the whole show, as well as a Lazy Bum with a Never My Fault complex and a horrendous penchant for Zany Schemes.
  • Maintain the Lie
  • Manly Man and Sensitive Guy: Lee and Tim respectively
  • May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?: In one episode, this appears to be a Meet Cute, but turns out to be the excuse version of sorts when a young woman who thinks she is Lee's daughter appears at his door. Turns out at the end that she isn't Lee's daughter after all. When a guy shows up at the end of the episode asking to borrow some milk Lee tells him there's a Tesco nearby and shuts the door on him.
  • Men Are Uncultured: Well, Lee is
  • Mistaken for Gay: In the finale Tim turns up in time for the Wedding objection and says he should be standing beside Lee (as best man). When Lee's dad objects as he is best man the Vicar says it's legal now.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Mistaken for masseuse
  • Momma's Boy
  • Monster Clown: In "Camping," Lee, Tim, Lucy, and Daisy get stranded and find themselves surrounded by a growing group of individuals wearing ominous clown masks. Turns out, the group are at a popular dogging site and they're surrounded by people looking for people having sex to watch.
  • My Parents Are Dead: As Lee backpedals from confronting a noisy psychotic neighbor he rhetorically asks 'Who am I to tell you to keep the noise down? I'm not your mum' the neighbor snaps 'My mother's dead!' Lee's response? 'You don't run a hotel with her do you?'
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits
  • Never My Fault: A large amount of episodes, especially post-retool, devolve into escalating chaos simply because Lucy and Lee don't want to admit blame for an at-first-relatively-reasonable mistake. Generally Lucy is more willing to call out the absurdity of Lee's schemes and inability to admit his errors, though as Lee has often pointed out, she is sometimes just as willing to shirk responsibility or blame him for everything, even during times she is equally to blame.
  • New Job Episode
  • Noodle Incident: The episode with the art exhibition has Tim berating Lee:
    Lee: It's not my fault!
    Tim: Oh yeah. When my grandmother ended up in a ditch, it wasn't your fault. When my aunt could only eat soft fruit for a week, it wasn't your fault!
    • There's a lot of Lee's stag night that we don't see, aren't told about, and is probably lost to the ages thanks to alcohol-induced amnesia.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Geoffrey, Lucy's Father, is this to Lee before the wedding. He makes it quite clear he hates Lee and wishes the wedding doesn't go ahead.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Barbara the Cleaner. Lee often jokes about the last time he saw Barbara actually clean something?
  • One-Word Title: Every episode except the Christmas specials and "Life on Mars Bars".
  • Out-Gambitted: Lee and Lucy get drunk together to settle an argument about whether one can get too drunk to remember things. They wake up naked in Lucy's bed in the next morning and both panic. It turns out that Lucy faked the scene to prank Lee. It also turns out that Lee was only pretending to drink.
  • Out of Focus: Lee and Lucy's children are regulars in the first post-Retool series, then steadily appear less and less, which was likely informed by the fact that any scenes with them could not be filmed in front of a live audience and had to be pre-recorded. In the 2021 series (filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, which was likely also a factor) they are entirely absent apart from one appearance from Molly and one by all three (one of whom is offscreen and voiceover-only), although they remain in the opening titles.
  • Parental Favoritism: Lucy seems to benefit
  • Pass the Popcorn
  • Prank Punishment: In "Pregnant", Lucy announces that she is pregnant, much to the shock of Lee, who had ejaculated into her bathwater and now fears he is the father. When he reluctantly admits the deed to Lucy, she initially reacts with horror and tells him to Get Out!, then reveals that she knew about it the whole time, and the "pregnancy" was just a prank to get back at him for it.
  • Precision F-Strike: A couple through the series, including Lucy's "What the fuck is going on?"
    • The most notable is Wendy's when Lee, Geoffrey, and Frank are missing right before Lee and Lucy's wedding. You'd never quite expect to hear the words "Or I'll have the fucking bollocks off the pair of them" from her.
  • Preemptive Shutup
  • The Problem with Pen Island: In the Totally Radical example below.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Daisy in series 4, replacing Barbara's spot in the sequence. (Following Tim Vine's departure after series 5, in series 6 the opening titles were re-filmed to put her front and centre.)
  • Pull the Plug on the Title: The title sequence shows the words as big multiple-lightbulb signs held up by Lee, Tim and Kate(then Lucy). Lee's word goes out randomly in series 1 and 6, and either Barbara (series 2-3) or Daisy (series 4-5) is shown unplugging it.
  • Pungeon Master: Lee more than anyone else.
  • Put on a Bus:Kate leaves for America offscreen after Series 1 and Tim goes to Germany offscreen after Series 5. Although at least he returns for the wedding.
  • "Rear Window" Homage: In "Front Window", Lee has had a knee operation and is confined to the house, so he watches the going-ons of his neighborhood. Hilarity Ensues when he believes that one of the neighbors has killed one of the cats in the same neighbourhood.
  • Refrigerator Ambush: Neighbor
  • Retool: The show underwent a massive retool in 2017, becoming a more traditional Dom Com about a married couple, their children, family, and friends.
  • Retroactive Wish:
    Lee: Honestly, who do you know who could break a passport?
    (the cleaner walks in)
    Lee: Honestly, who do you know that's a beautiful nymphomaniac rich widow?
    (nothing happens)
    Lee: Oh, so it's just the one wish then.
  • Rule of Funny: In series 6, Tim's absence is Hand Waved within 10 seconds of the first episode as working in Germany, and it is never explained why his girlfriend continues to show up randomly at his sister's flat.
  • The Scrounger: Lee and particularly his dad
  • Shipper on Deck: Barbara, for Lee/Lucy.
    • Daisy takes on this role after Barbara leaves
    • Toby and Anna are revealed to be this for Lee and Lucy at the end of Series 7. And they actually succeed in making them admit their feelings for each other.
  • Shout-Out: The cold opening to the episode "Life on Mars Bars" is a reconstruction of the opening to Life On Mars.
    • In the latter series, a neighbour who becomes a friend of Lee is played by Hugh Dennis, who is an Outnumbered and somewhat put-upon husband and father who tries to take it all in his stride.
  • Sit Comic: Lee Mack and Tim Vine
  • The Slacker: Lee
  • Snowball Lie
  • Stolen Credit Backfire: The 2017 Christmas Special, "The True Meaning Of Christmas" has Lucy and Lee take credit for the kids' trampoline Frank bought them after failing to get them a creditable gift, not wanting to look pathetic in front of Lucy's parents. After convincing Frank to play along, Toby and Ann come with the news that someone stole the trampoline they bought for their kids (Frank meekly reveals he actually bought his from a shady man from the pub). After a Never My Fault argument with Frank and a dismal attempt to cover up the trampoline, Lucy and Lee are left taking credit for stupidly buying their neighbours' stolen present.
  • Strongly Worded Letter: Lucy leaves one for their psychotic neighbor against Lee's protests
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The karaoke song Tim starts singing the same moment Debbie tells Lee she thinks he's her father.
    • When Lee turns the radio on to drown out the sound of his dad getting a suppository it's "The Only Way is Up" by Yazz.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When discussing Police falsely accusing people if they can't get them for a real crime, Frank mentions a break-in at an off-licence in 1974 along with what was stolen before catching himself.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Toby is one for Tim in some respects. Both are intelligent and well-off middle class Butt Monkeys who get dragged into Lee's schemes to their detriment. Though Toby is more self-assured and most of the humour comes from his being a Henpecked Husband rather than a lack of masculinity like Tim.
    • Lucy for Kate in the sense that they were both leading female characters alongside Lee, they owned the flat and Lee was their lodger.
    • Daisy came in just before Barbara left, and both were very quirky, comic-relief supporting characters, though Barbara was more of a physical klutz while Daisy was just a general simpleton.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: Lee's attempt at speed-dating.
  • Think Unsexy Thoughts
  • Time Skip:There's an eight-year time skip from the 7th Series when Lee & Lucy get married to the 8th series where they have three children and have moved out of the apartment into a house.
  • Toilet Humour: Used occasionally but hilariously such as when Lee and Tim are called upon to babysit Guy's grandson.
  • Totally Radical: Parodied. Lee has found yet another dead-end job, so Kate asks him if he bothered to look at some career leaflets she got for him. He dismissively says that they're all aimed at kids, citing a slogan: "Do you want a career, innit?" Kate reads the leaflet; the slogan in question is actually "Do you want a career in IT?"
  • Tough Crowd...: Both Tim and Lee. Lee even uses it as a catchphrase of sorts.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Tim accuses Lee of being this.
  • Trouble Entendre: A "Fawlty Towers" Plot rendered the main characters unable to say their true meanings in order not to reveal the fact that they weren't disabled, leading to this sort of talk, which everyone else remains clueless to, even when one of them explicitly says "blackmail".
  • Un-Cancelled: After the third series.
  • Under the Mistletoe
  • Verbal Backpedaling: Lee on childbirth- 'It can't be as bad as women go on about...women say... people say... stupid people!'
  • Video Call Fail: The punchline for the episode "Text", where Lee, who has become involved in a "Fawlty Towers" Plot involving a text message sent to the wrong person, accidentally strips off his pants trying to create a dick picture to Anna's virtual meeting.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Lee and Tim.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Barbara.
  • Waxing Lyrical:
    Barbara: Listen. When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother, what will I be? Will I be pretty? Will I be rich? Here's what she said to me.
    Lee: I'm guessing it was a no.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: After Lee's father takes him on a Stag night they wake up in a cell. The Policeman comes in and starts talking to them in another language. It turns out he is doing this as a joke.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: The episode Life on Mars Bars is a half-hour reference to Life On Mars.
  • Women Are Wiser: Downplayed, in that Lucy often calls out Lee's shenanigans and crudeness, but is usually equally shallow and unwilling to accept humiliation or bad repercussions, meaning she often ends up embroiled in cover-up schemes just as pathetically as he does.
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?
  • Will They or Won't They?: From Series 2 onwards, this is at the core of the programme between Lee and Lucy. Finally, after seven years and some significant nudging from upstairs neighbours Toby and Anna, they do, getting a Relationship Upgrade.
  • Working-Class People Are Morons: Frequently leveled at Lee and Frank.


Video Example(s):


Not Going Out Opening

The opening sequence for Series 2-3 of "Not Going Out" ends with Lee's section of the title going out, courtesy of Barbara unplugging it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / PullThePlugOnTheTitle

Media sources: