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The Worst Week of My Life is a Britishmarker comedy television series, first broadcast on BBC One between March and April 2004. A second series was aired between November and December 2005 and a three-part Christmas special, The Worst Christmas of My Life was shown during December 2006. It was written by Mark Bussell and Justin Sbresni.


Series One

'Anything that can go wrong, does' is the plotline used by the writers. Essentially a comedy of embarrassment and errors, The Worst Week of My Life began with the seven days leading up to the marriage of publishing executive Howard Steel and his fiancée Mel, the daughter of a high-court judge, Dick Cook. Humiliating situations ensue: Cassie, a work colleague with whom Howard had a drunken one-night stand two years earlier, sets out to snare him and becomes obsessive; Howard accidentally kills his in-laws' dog, puts Mel's granny in hospital and loses the wedding ring (a family heirloom). At the end of the first series, Howard and Mel were wed, despite the many mishaps that had befallen the well-meaning but accident-prone groom.

Series Two

The second series takes place in the week leading up to the birth of Howard and Mel's first baby, and Howard has not yet shaken off the fate inexorably attached to him. During the course of the week he is accused of sexual harassment at work, and mistakenly arrested for 'dogging'. He also manages to toast his father-in-law's CBE on a barbecue. Despite Howard knocking out the midwife, the series ends with the birth of a baby girl, Emily.

The Worst Christmas of My Life

A three-part Christmas special entitled The Worst Christmas of My Life was shown on BBC One in December 2006.

Episode One

Set: 23rd December: (aired 19th December 2006)
After his office Christmas party, Howard takes his intoxicated boss Nicola in a cab to her home, after realising she's not fit to drive. During the cab ride, she vomits on him and, after taking a shower at her place, is forced outside naked by Nicola, after she mistakes his nakedness for preparation to rape her. Howard turns up naked on his in-laws' doorstep, and proceeds to urinate on the Christmas goose after the power goes out, leading to a series of events which culminate in him falsely claiming to his wife and mother-in-law that his father-in-law is dead. Later, he crashes into his father-in-law, drags his unconscious body inside, causes his mother-in-law to faint, makes his wife suspicious about his naked escapade the previous night when Nicola apologises and returns his clothes, and finally destroys his wife's childhood dollhouse, which was to be a gift to their newborn daughter, while attempting to fix the damaged fuse that led to him urinating on the goose initially.

Episode Two

Set: 24th December: (aired 21st December 2006)
With Dick continuing to receive wreaths and read obituaries following his "death", his contempt for Howard deepens further when he discovers he bought a new car with the money he was expecting to receive from the will. A freak accident involving a strimmer leads to family friend Felicity's pedigree dog, who is regularly put out to stud, losing a testicle, with Howard once more taking the blame. He then takes baby Emily Christmas shopping in the local shopping centre, where he gets in a fight with a drunken Father Christmas and accidentally ends up pushing around the wrong pushchair. He eventually manages to swap the prams back and return the baby to its black parents and reclaim Emily, but Howard's despair isn't over yet as he spills mulled wine over the local Vicar when he visits the house. Howard's visit to church on Christmas Eve sees him get in argument with Fraser over his refusal to publish his memoirs and another fight - this time with Eve's new love, Mitch, who Howard saw kissing another woman at the office Christmas party.

Episode Three

Set: 25th December: (aired 22nd December 2006)

Howard receives a visit from police on Christmas morning following his fight with Mitch, while Eve is attempting suicide in the house and Fraser is accusing him of stealing his bagpipes. Meanwhile, Howard offers to help Dick repair the dollhouse but quickly the pair are glued together as their visitors, the Bledlow family (including Mel's ex-boyfriend, Ed), call in for Christmas lunch. With Howard fretting about a missing condom of his that the family dog took from his room earlier, he spots it and leaves the meal to try and reclaim it. But he ends up setting fire to the front room, damaging the presents that were to be opened after lunch.

Main Characters

  • Ben Miller as Howard Steel, the hapless male lead. A book publisher by trade, Howard continually puts himself in dreadful situations and makes things worse by trying to either put things right or explain what had happened.

  • Sarah Alexander as Mel Cook, Howard's fiancee and then wife, who remains in love with him despite his mishaps. However, Mel (who works as a vet) gradually loses patience with him as the story arc in each series progresses.

  • Alison Steadman as Angela Cook, Mel's mother. Her main role in life appears to be to entertain guests at her country home, regularly worrying about the impression that will be set following Howard-led problems.

  • Geoffrey Whitehead as Dick Cook, a High Court judge and Mel's father. He has little time for Howard and struggles to understand why Mel wanted to marry him.

  • Janine Duvitski as Eve, Howard's assistant. She devotes much of her life to her work and has little social life outside helping Howard.

  • Ronald Pickup as Fraser Cook, Dick's brother. Obsessed by his days in the army, Fraser will regularly offer rather pointless advice about life. He is initially a closet homosexual but finally comes out (series 2) while in a relationship with his "travelling companion" Gerard (Terrence Hardiman).

Minor Characters

  • Raquel Cassidy as Cassie Turner, Howard's co-worker who he had a one-night stand with (series 1). She is unable to accept he wants to marry Mel and goes to any length possible to try and marry him instead.

  • Emma Pierson as Sophie Cook, Mel's troublesome younger sister (series 1). She asks Howard for relationship advice and then strongly criticises him when things do not work out.

  • John Benfield as Ron Steel, Howard's laddish father. He has a lap dancer girlfriend, Trish, played by Lizzie Roper (series 1).

  • Kim Wall as Mitch, Eve's new boyfriend (series 3). Eve quickly announces her plans to marry him but Howard feels compelled to tell her he saw him kissing another woman at the office Christmas party. Howard and Mitch end up fighting with nativity figures at Midnight Mass.

  • Paul Brooke as the Vicar, who finds Howard hard work when preparing to carry out his wedding (series 1). After Emily is born, Angela and Dick are keen for her christening to be held at Winchester Cathedral and believe setting a good impression to the Vicar (a personal friend to the Bishop) when he calls on Christmas Eve (series 3) will seal their wishes. But Howard spills mulled wine over the Vicar, who has to be undressed to receive treatment.

Previous Collaborations

International versions

In 2007, the first series was remade as Hilfe! Hochzeit! Die schlimmste Woche meines Lebens (Help! Wedding! The Worst Week of My Life) for a German audience starring Christoph Maria Herbst (Stromberg) as Joachim Witte (who is the counterpart to Howard Steel). The series aired weekly in the Friday evening prime time on Sat.1.

An American pilot was ordered by the Fox network in 2005, but Fox decided not to proceed with the show. CBS have also commissioned a pilot of the series entitled Worst Week. It is being adapted by Matt Tarses.. ABC also ran a short lived series, with a similar story arc, in 2006-7, entitled Big Day.

"The Worst Week" premiered on Monday, September 22, 2008 on CBS.


Series one and two, as well as the Christmas special, are available on Region 2 DVD. The first series is also available on Region 1 DVD, and due for a Region 4 release in February 2008.


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