TV Review: Noel Fielding in The Completely Made-up Adventures of Dick Turpin, Apple TV+

TV Review: Noel Fielding in The Completely Made-up Adventures of Dick Turpin, Apple TV+

I had a bad feeling about Noel Fielding's new comedy The Completely Made-up Adventures of Dick Turpin. The cast was so starry, so packed with 24-carat familiar TV comedy names plus Hugh Bonneville – pretty much all my favourites except for Kevin Eldon and Tim Key – it was surely certain to fail. So I'm delighted to say it's an absolute hoot. A rip-roaringly silly absolute hoot.

As the title suggests, Fielding takes utter liberties with the Turpin legend and seems to have made it up as he went along. Always the best way. The first episode sets things up nicely. He is about to be hung, but before that he gets to tell us his life story. He broke away from his family butchery business because he was a vegan who preferred to make models out of courgettes. Along the way he joined a gang and before you can say dandy highwayman he was the leader. And being led to the gallows.

The result is a fast-paced piece of nonsense with a script crammed with more daft jokes about flying cartwheels, secret passages and structures made of vegetables than an entire series of Blackadder (some of them – like the one where they laugh about the idea that one day women will have equal pay – do feel very Blackadderish). Despite it being set in 1735 and a fair wodge of budget being spent on a contemporary look the dialogue does have a contemporary off-the-wall feel, not a million miles away from a Boosh episode. And Fielding has the same haircut as he does in Bake Off. 

There are so many comedy faces it can almost be too much to take in. There's Ellie White (“The Windsors”), Marc Wootton (“High & Dry”), Duayne Boachie (“Blue Story”), Hugh Bonneville (“Downton Abbey''), Tamsin Greig (“Episodes”), Asim Chaudhry (“The Sandman”, "People Just Do Nothing")), Dolly Wells (“The Outlaws” and other stuff with Fielding), Joe Wilkinson (“Sex Education” and "After Life"), Mark Heap (“Friday Night Dinner” and loads of things going back a long way), Geoff McGivern (“Free Rein” and "Hitchhikers Guide...")), Michael Fielding (Naboo in “The Mighty Boosh“ and Noel's brother), Samuel Leakey (“Gretel & Hansel”), and Kiri Flaherty. 

And at the heart fo it is Fielding. He is perfectly happy to be the fall guy, surviving to rob another day even if it does mean he has to escape on a tiny horse. Future episodes feature guest turns from Jessica Hynes, Greg Davies and Diane Morgan. Of course some people won't find this remotely funny but they are wrong. TV seems to like historical send-ups these days - as well as Upstart Crow and The Witchfinder there's a whiff of Our Flag Means Death about the irreverent tone here. I like the sound of irreverent tone. It would make a great name for a character if they are working on a second series. 

Noel Fielding in “The Completely Made-up Adventures of Dick Turpin”  is streaming on Apple TV+.

Picture: Apple TV+



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