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Monday, 23 September 2013

The Wrong Mans hits all the right notes.


Let's begin with something that will shock you to your very core. Ready? It’s a somewhat shameful admission, but I never saw Gavin & Stacey. Not one episode. So, while I was aware of the swirl of media attention surrounding bright young thing James Corden, I never really understood what all the fuss was about. Sure, he seems like a nice enough chap, and I thought he did a pretty good job of hosting the Brit Awards (three times); and A League of Their Own is reasonably enjoyable stuff.

But he’s at his best when he has someone else to bounce off, be it Ruth Jones, Mathew Horne or in this new comedy, puppy dog-eyed Peep Show and G&S alumnus, Mat Baynton. Maybe having a writing partner brings out the best in Corden, and if that’s the case, then The Wrong Mans should be well worth a look.


For anyone who has had their head in the clouds (or the sand) over the past few weeks and has missed every single bit of publicity surrounding it, the sitcom follows council worker Sam (Baynton) and his oddball pal Phil (Corden) who - for reasons I’m sure will become clear as the series gets underway - find themselves in all manner of perilous scrapes, and all because of a case of mistaken identity. Speaking about the collaboration, Baynton said: “We talked about film noirs… the ones where someone very ordinary makes one single decision or mistake, and they’re just sucked into something where they’re immediately out of their depth, and they spiral into disaster.” If I’ve got the feel of it right, Corden will be all mouth (and possibly no trousers), while Baynton - in true straight-man style - is the meeker of the two, though perhaps grabs all the best lines.

If that doesn’t have you biting at the bit to give this comedy a whirl, then surely the cast of The Wrong Mans makes it a tasty televisual prospect. Check it out: David Harewood (yup, that’s him, of Homeland fame), His and Hers’ Sarah Solemani, Karel Roden from Hellboy and Nick Moran, whose career got a leg-up with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and who also, dontchaknow, directed Corden and Baynton in low-budget flick Telstar.

That’s not counting the reams of famous faces who are set to appear in future episodes (watch out for acting luminaries Dawn French, Dougray Scott, Rebecca Front and Rufus Hound).

While some may be troubled by the stars lining up around the block to feature in The Wrong Mans (cynics could argue they’re there to distract from duff material or a dearth of plotlines), I’m staying positive. James Corden has proved himself a capable and versatile actor and comedian (you don’t win a Tony award for just turning up and citing column inches at the audience), while Mat Baynton looks more than capable of holding his own against the mighty star of stage and screen.

And if it turns out to be a steaming pile of self-indulgent rubbish, at least the BBC were sensible enough to make it in 30-minute instalments, so no one will have wasted much time.



The Wrong Mans starts Tomorrow Night (Tuesday 24th September) at 9.00pm on BBC2

Contributed by Scheenagh Harrington

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