TV: Brilliantman!, Sky Arts

Brilliantman

Sky’s silent comedy season comes to an end this week and they’ve saved the best until last. For those mourning the demise of Kevin Eldon’s BBC2 series here is a chance to see the ubiquitous character comedian/actor in the lead role in his very own comedy one-off.

The title pretty much says it all. Writer/star Eldon plays Ian Hedge, an unassuming superhero who can transform from mild-mannered council employee to global saviour in the blink of an eye. Well, almost. OK, not like that at all. But take a look anyway and you won’t be disappointed.

The best way of recommending this without spoiling the fun is to run through the 24-carat cast. Johnny Vegas is on particularly good form in a Les Dawsonish dress and apron as Eldon’s sour-faced landlady, Mrs Wardle, who looks after her lodger in the way only a cross-dressing Vegas could. 

Elsewhere Joanna Neary peeps out of a window exquisitely, Paul Putner plays a stern cafe owner and Ben Moor should get a BAFTA for the way he pushes a pea around a plate. There is also a scene-stealing squawking parrot, though he doesn’t seem to have a credit in the cast list.

Smart, silly visual gags pepper the action. It's a shame this is on after 9pm, small children would probably love it. Record it and stick them in front of it when they come in from school.

I’m not sure what could have made this episode better. Maybe an appearance from that other comedy regular Mark Heap? But Eldon is superb, with the perfect expressive face for silent comedy. If only he had been around at the same time as Chaplin he’d have probably been a superstar rather than everyone’s favourite supporting actor. 

Brilliantman!, Sky Arts, Thursday, Sept 24, 9pm.

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