tv
Thursday, 23 August 2012

Television Reviews: 24 August

Michael Moran discovers some amusing gems twinkling away on Sky TV

Written by Michael Moran
I strive for variety in these pages, but regular readers will no doubt have detected a bias towards detective capers with the odd detour into costume drama and daft comedy. So perhaps you won't be too shocked to hear that this week I have a daft comedy detective caper for you, and then (to follow) a dark – rather than daft – comedy costume drama.

I'm not sure if it's accident or design that has brought these spoofs of Britain's favourite television formats to Sky TV this weekend, but I'm glad they're here. Television's gamekeeper turned- poacher Charlie Brooker has assembled a spectacular cast for his affectionate swipe at Morse and Frost, A Touch Of Cloth (26 and 27 August at 9pm, Sky1).

John Hannah heads a phalanx of star names including Suranne Jones, Julian Rhind-Tutt, and a famous face I can't possibly tell you about.

Jones came straight to this show from the perfectly serious and perfectly brilliant detective drama Scott & Bailey. Rhind-Tutt's probably best known for spoofing another popular TV genre with hospital comedy Green Wing.

Harry Hill writer Daniel Maier collaborated with Brooker on the screenplay, and it shows. Gags are sprayed all over the script like blood trails in a CSI crime scene. Some are a shade obvious, some honestly a shade too vulgar but there are a fistful that I'm sure will make you laugh uproariously. They're worth the wait.

This Airplane-style cavalcade of silliness is played absolutely straight. Even the most egregious puns are delivered deadpan, elevating them from borderline groaners to outrageous thighslappers. The grisly crime scenes and arrestingly salty language won't be for everyone but if you giggled your way through the Naked Gun films, Charlie Brooker's bulging rap sheet of schoolboy humour might be just the thing for you.

Hunderby (27 August, Sky Atlantic HD) is an altogether darker confection.

Written by Julia Davis, it's informed by a broad sweep of classic fiction – a soupçon of Jane Eyre, a generous dollop of Rebecca – but this is no French and Saunders costume-drama lampoon. If you were not paying close attention, perhaps distracted by a tricky piece of needlepoint or a storm outside on the dark, forbidding moors, it would be easy to mistake Hunderby for the real thing.

It's within the keenly-observed detail and the elegantly-crafted Georgette Heyer language that the dark humour is concealed. Davis has written herself a plum role as a sinister, monocular Mrs Danvers. Alexandra Roach (The Suspicions Of Mr Whicher) is pitch-perfect as the shipwrecked ingénue with a dark secret of her own and Alex MacQueen (best known for Holby City) plays the unforgiving pastor with a penchant for 'bubbly milk'.

A Touch Of Cloth is a one-off, and sensibly so. It's brilliant fun but perhaps too silly to run for a whole series. Hunderby, though, you'll want it to run forever.



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