Remember Bob Martin? Michael Barrymore played a game show host. A little bit of critical acclaim. A lot of audience indifference.
Its creators Bob Mills (the guy who did the fantastic In Bed With MeDinner years ago) and Jeff Pope have bounced back from that flop to bring us TV’s latest loveable rogue comedy drama. John Thomson’s Stanley Tulley enters the territory previously occupied by Dad’s Army’s Private Walker, Arthur Daley and Del Boy – and after just one episode, has already pulled it off.
He’s got into bother nicking Belgian Apricot Beer from his baby-faced gangster boss in London – and he gets into bother with his old hard-nosed Mr Big mucker back in his home city of Manchester. But we’re with him all the way. Petty thieves getting one-up on nasty villains is always entertaining. Except Stan ends up two-nil down.
The best loveable rogues have a loveable sidekick. Joe Absolom’s Depp fills that role. A little bit too dim and innocent, but a useful naive counterpoint to Stan’s world weary ways.
And the best loveable rogues can’t quite get it together with the opposite sex. Stanley left Julie a decade ago. Reunited, he discovers she has a 10-year-old son. Not the kid who does brilliant tricks with the football, but a loser-in-the-making who immediately wins the heart of the man who may, or may not, be his father. There’ll be tears when we find out he is. Or isn’t. And there’ll be laughs as Stanley gets in the sorts of scrapes that were Daley occurrences in the days of Minder and made Del Boy into a national hero.