Daily Mail Review

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By Claudia Connell
PUBLISHED: 9 July 2013

As a general rule, if you can see a joke in a comedy show coming from a mile off then, chances are, it won’t have been worth the wait.

When it comes to Count Arthur Strong (BBC2), that theory goes straight out of the window.

A scene in last night’s first episode, where Arthur thought his local café had a special offer on teas (but didn’t) was so silly, and long-running, it shouldn’t even have raised a smile let alone still have had me laughing hours later.

The same could be said about another gag involving a saucepan, a wooden spoon and a lavatory. On paper it would look like the sort of material the producers of Terry And June would have rejected for being too slapstick and obvious; in reality, it was hugely refreshing and very funny.
Silly: Count Arthur Strong has jokes that you can see coming from miles away but they still have the ability to raise a laugh

Silly: Count Arthur Strong has jokes that you can see coming from miles away but they still have the ability to raise a laugh

Arthur is a hapless, hopeless old-school variety performer still trying to make it big in entertainment. Think Arthur Askey but without the charm or talent.

Along with many of our most successful and best–loved comedies including Alan Partridge, Little Britain and Mitchell And Webb, Count Arthur Strong started life on Radio 4 before being adapted for television.

In the TV version we first met Arthur when he was visited by Michael, the son of one of his deceased former comedy partners, who was writing a book about his dad and looking for material. Before Arthur had even let Michael into his house, we got a taste of the sort of man he was thanks to the notices he’d pinned to his front door that included: ‘I don’t want me windows cleaned,’ and ‘I know where I stand viz a viz Jesus.’

The fantastically entertaining Greatest Show On  Earth came to an end last night, but I hope we don’t have to wait long before Daisy Donovan is back on our screens.

I’d forgotten what a natural performer she was and, in among a roll call of identikit TV airheads, a breath of fresh air.

Although, at first, Arthur thought Michael (played by Rory Kinnear) was there to buy a foot spa he was trying to sell, he eventually agreed to talk to him in return for a free lunch at his local café, where we are introduced to a variety of oddball characters.

One such individual was Eggy, a man on a mission to stop people from eating eggs for reasons best-known to himself and who wore a sandwich board that proclaimed ‘Don’t trust Omelettes’ and ‘Remember: Hitler ate eggs’.

The character of Arthur Strong is played by his creator Stephen Delaney who, for the TV version, teams up with the very talented Graham Linehan, who co-wrote and directed.

As with Linehan’s other work, including Father Ted and The IT Crowd, the comedy was clever but also charmingly old-fashioned.




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