GAMEFACE (E4, Thursday) is funny! I deliver that statement as though it’s a revelation, and perhaps it is, for when’s the last time you watched anything on E4 apart from Friends repeats?

It’s easy to forget about E4. Not only is it lost amongst millions of other channels on cable, but it also gets swamped by Channel 4’s other offerings, such as More4, All4, Four7, Walter Presents…

So a new sitcom on E4 needs a whole lot of luck, or some raving publicity, if it’s to pull in the punters. Failing that, it needs a little smudge of stardust that has rubbed off on it from a previous show. That’s what attracted me to Gameface: its star and writer, Roisin Conaty, was in the brilliant Channel 4 comedy Man Down, and so I needed no persuasion to jump across to E4 to see what her own show would be like.

Of course, being in Man Down doesn’t guarantee that your other shows will be brilliant. Big Greg Davies, its lovable, Mayall-esque lead, also presents the game show Taskmaster on Dave, and having also rushed across to a lesser channel to watch that I was disappointed. Apparently the joyous Man Down stardust doesn’t rub off on everything – at least, not on game shows, but it seems it does transfer nicely to other sitcoms.

Roisin Conaty plays Marcella. Her character is similar to the oafish, lovable Jo she plays in Man Down, though with a bit more realism. She plays a messy, chaotic thirtysomething who is unlucky in love and fond of the booze, but before you turn away, thinking “I’ve seen this before in a million other sitcoms”, let me tell you that it’s actually quite funny!

The episode opens with her in a Disney ball gown, fast asleep in a chair, snorting and mumbling. Yes, she’s the entertainer at a children’s party but is too hungover to indulge the brats, and the middle-class mummy throws her out of the house for daring to have “red wine lips” in front of the precious little mites.

Marcella is in a bit of a mess, having a one-night stand with a man who’s never seen Friends, and who hangs around her flat the morning after watching the repeats and hollering with delight about the cat being smelly and how Ross and Rachel were on a break!

Little wonder her mum gets her discounted therapy sessions on Groupon.

Sitcoms about troubled, childless, boozy women are common, and often show the woman as helpless and nice. She’d settle down and start breeding if only she could find the right man! Gameface sticks two fingers to that idea, and Marcella is crude and cheeky and selfish. She even goes along with her colleagues’ mistaken belief that she’s suicidal so she can enjoy “the perks” of their sympathy, such as Billy Elliot tickets and being allowed to watch YouTube videos of cute dogs at her desk. A woman who can exploit someone else’s suicide attempt just so she can slack off at work gets my vote. Marcella is the glorious opposite of simpering, hapless, unlucky TV women, like that tedious Miranda.

This refreshing clash between “nice” people and the grubby Marcella is perfectly summed up in an exchange on the office floor when the manager realises Marcella was not actually about to kill herself – and so she got those Billy Elliot tickets for nothing.

“I’m so disappointed in you!” shrieks the boss.

“What, cos I’m not suicidal?” says Marcella.

I HAVE a good old moan in my weekend preview today where I say how tired I am with TV history that involves dressing up and play-acting. It’s patronising, and treats the viewer as a toddler who needs to have funny little trinkets and toys dangled before it. Lucy Worsley is obviously its queen, and I suppose you either love or hate that type of thing.

I’m a hater! I like my history serious and enlightening, not covered in ringlets and petticoats. So I was surprised at how much I loved Russia 1917: Countdown to Revolution (BBC2, Tuesday).

It told the story of the Russian Revolution and used actors (gasp!) and the actors wore costume (more gasps!). I should have hated it, but the dramatised scenes were not intrusive and gaudy, and neither were they the whole point of the show. They were just a handy supplement to the real story which was revealed to us by experts: real historians and writers for whom this is their speciality.

This was history for grown-ups, and I wish the BBC would give us more. Although, looking ahead to next week’s TV, I see a drama beginning on BBC4 about the Reformation, so we can’t accuse them of ducking the weighty topics.