TV: Count Arthur Strong, Episode Two, Arthur The Hat, BBC1

There have been some interesting comments about new comedy White Gold, which started earlier this week. People who didn’t like it pointed to the fact that there was nobody nice in it. Nobody you could actually like. Which is not how English sitcoms are supposed to be. They are supposed to be full of loveable losers.

Well if you like loveable losers then Count Arthur Strong should feel like the perfect palette cleansing sorbet after the rich meat of White Gold. In the second episode Michael (Rory Kinnear) finds himself doing jury service while Count Arthur is somehow mistaken for a gangland Mr Big. Now just stand back and enjoy the stupidity.

Of course there are some people who don’t like this either. They think it is too broad or maybe just too plain daft. But it is much much cleverer than it looks. It takes brains to create and inhabit characters this thick. Hat tips to co-writers Steve Delaney (who plays Count Arthur too) and Graham Linehan, who certainly know how to structure a sitcom (Linehan also directs it).

And there are some truly delicious moments here, such as Arthur getting a vision of a saintly Brian Cox whenever he does a good deed. Or the beat-for-beat send-up of a street scene from The Godfather. Or Michael’s expression on his face whenever he gets nervous. 

Oh, and it’s good to see Ray Winstone lookalike Bruce Payne, who started off playing real hard men in movies in the 1980s playing an older gangster for fun. Comedy regular and friend of The Mighty Boosh Tom Meeten (pictured right) also pitches in as a local enforcer.

As I said, this might not be to everyone’s taste, but if you didn’t warm to White Gold then surely there must be a law somewhere that says you have to find Count Arthur Strong funny.

Fridays, BBC1, 8.30pm. Catch up here.

PS. No canned laughter. The Count has tweeted this following comments suggesting there is: "This is the last time I'm going to respond to this. We do not use canned laughter. Real audiences, real laughter. Ask anyone who's been."

 

 

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