TV Preview: The Independent May 2017This entry was posted in Press on .
May 11, 2017 by Sean O’Grady
Like me, you may have mixed feelings about the arrival of the third TV series of Count Arthur Strong to what he would call “the BBBC”. On the one hand, any Count Arthur is better than no Count Arthur. On the other hand, there is something very annoying, baffling and disappointing about how badly the genius of Count Arthur on (BBBC) Radio 4 just goes so flat on the telly.
Partly it’s the loss of his northern chums such as Alf the Quality Butcher. The brilliant Rory Kinnear, once again deployed as comic foil to Arthur, just adds too much pleasantness to the mix, and they have tried to make Arthur nicer and kinder than we all know him to be. Check out his memoirs, Through It All I’ve Always Laughed, published, in the Count’s words, by Faber and Faber and Faber, to see what I mean. The greatest comedy creations are people you’d never really want to spend much time with – Alan Partridge, David Brent, Brian Potter, Nigel Farage – and Arthur is becoming way too likeable. Mean and manipulative is how we like him.
Still, the better news for the body of Count Arthur’s devotees, in which I count myself a devout member, is that the writing and acting are much improved on the first two TV runs, so thanks to scriptwriter Graham Linehan and Steve Delaney, the progenitor of the phenomenononon. The first episode revolves around a séance, and I loved the description of the effects of excessive Crème de Menthe consumption as “minty oblivion”. I just wished there was more of that. The witty writing, I mean, not the Crème de menthe, seeing as you’re not asking.