The Cambridge Geek

Reluctant Persuaders

Back to no small silliness in the world of marketing with the staff of Hardacre's, who are hopefully flush with success after finally getting hold of a massive contract, in the form of a smartphone launch. However, that optimism is killed off impressively quickly (we're talking first three seconds) of the new series, as we discover that their new office managed to burn down, with Joe still inside it.

(Just in case you know nothing about the series before this point, Hardacre's is an advertising firm. This is a workplace comedy, such as might previously have examined the life of: social workers, pilots, doctors, architects, solicitors, shopkeepers, management consultants, pathologists, advertisers (yes, already) or spin doctors. It's a popular format. Most people work somewhere. If you don't, try this. It features: Rupert Hardacre, the owner and creative director; Amanda, the head of operations (and generally most effective); Joe, winner of most creative person in the building award (prior to it burning down) and Teddy. He is also there. That's probably the best you can say about him.)

Luckily for us (and presumably them), Joe survived with only slight charring, and so begins the effort to work out what happened. Making it harder is the fact that Joe has lost a week's worth of memory, and so the rest of the team have to help him reassemble it, in order to determine what disastrous event resulted in the conflagaration.

Since just telling the story of what happened might be a bit boring, this takes the form of a Rashomon plot, with each of the idiosyncratic team remembering it in their own way. Teddy, as ever the child of the group, has all of his memories provided as musicals, which means the series manages to start off with a climax-worthy song about how nice it happens to be to work in advertising. More than a bit novel.

Amanda is somewhat more traditional, simply populating all of her memories with sexy Irish baristas, whereas Hardacre himself prefers the Bond look, with a worrying tendency to drift into leather and whips territory. Speaking of terror, there's a chilling throwaway line about Teddy's dreams that I really want the spinoff for. Seriously, write the series about what happens then. I would listen to that so hard.

It's a programme which has always had an excellent ability to take the mick out of itself, and that continues here. It sets up episode long brick jokes, and has a way of delivering them with an excellent punch. I don't think there was a line in this I didn't laugh at, and you can tell it's been worked on to within an inch of its life to ensure the script delivers something for the cast to really play with.

Still a very good cast, by the way, though it's taken me until this series to realise the parallels you can draw with Cabin Pressure. Amanda as Caroline, Rupert as Douglas, Joe as Martin and Teddy as Arthur works surprsingly well, but it would be unfair to them (and the writers) to say they were any sort of rip off. They stand very handily on their own. I'm just going to now find myself looking for that collection of characters as a trope. Feel free to suggest others of the type in the comments.

Score 5

Tagged: Radio Comedy Cast Sitcom Workplace/Employment