A washed-up TV star comes out of retirement in this loose but very funny British comedy starring Julian Barratt of 'The Mighty Boosh'
In the tradition of cringeworthy comedy characters like Alan Partridge and Steven Toast, the fictional actor Richard Thorncroft – star of this extremely funny Britcom – is a deluded has-been. Created by ‘Mighty Boosh’ actors Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Thorncroft (played by Barratt) had a brush with celebrity in the ’80s as the star of the ‘Bergerac’-like TV detective show ‘Mindhorn’ set on the Isle of Man; Mindhorn’s bionic eye meant he could literally see the truth. Fame came crashing down when, pissed as a fart, he fell off a sofa on ‘Wogan’ while slagging off his co-star (Steve Coogan) and calling the Isle of Man ‘a shithole’. Fast forward 30 years, he’s living in a grotty flat in Walthamstow reduced to advertising a brand of man-Spanx.
‘Mindhorn’ definitely feels like a a half-hour sitcom episode stretched across 90 minutes. But Barratt and Farnaby have come up with a comedy action-thriller scenario that just about works, and the gags-per-minute ratio is through the roof. Thorncroft hasn’t had an audition in months when his agent calls with a request from the Isle of Man police. A psychotic ‘Mindhorn’ fan is on the loose and will only deal with Detective Mindhorn himself. Seizing the opportunity to grab a bit of publicity and raise his profile, Thorncroft signs up to play his famous character one last time.
Thorncroft is a gem of comedy creation – played to perfection by Barratt. A rampant egomaniac, trapped in his own vanity, IRL he’d make your skin crawl. He would be embittered by failure if he wasn’t convinced that he’s still a national treasure. High-profile cameos by Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow cleverly show up his fizzling career. And the detail is brilliant, from Thorncroft’s pre-audition warm-up (repeating the tongue-twister: ‘The Benedict Cumberbatch backlash has begun’) to his hit ’80s single, ‘You Can’t Handcuff the Wind’. As a celebration of naff British telly – a gentler time of male TV stars with chest hair and paunchy guts breaking into a light trot in pursuit of villains, totty swarming all over them – this is comedy gold.
Cast and crew