TV: Murder on the Blackpool Express, Gold

The Christmas spirit has already started this year. Not just with the John Lewis adverts but with this comedy. There is no Frankincense or Myrrh but this one-off from Gold starring Johnny Vegas has that feel of snuggling down on a cold night, turning off your brain and having a cosy evening in front of the box.

The plot is fiendishly simple and not a million milles from various Agatha Christie mysteries. Vegas and Sian Gibson play coach driver Terry and guide Emma espectively on a literary tour for fans of crime writer David Van Der Clane (Griff Rhys Jones). And, as a special treat the pompous author himself is joining them on the trip, albeit to make a little extra cash flogging signed books.

But when one of the party suffers sudden death by coronation chicken things take a darkly comic turn. Then another one has a fatal fall. And a third loses their head. David Van Der Clane isn't going to be selling many signed books at this rate.

Whodunnit...Was It Vegas?

I've made a point of not saying who is bumped off as that would spoil the surprises. And the cast is pretty good so it's a shame some of them make an early exit. It also includes Nigel Havers, Kimberley Nixon, Nina Wadia, Mark Heap, Kevin Eldon, Una Stubbs, Javone Prince and Chris Ramsey. 

The script, by Jason Cook, the stand-up who wrote the sitcom Hebburn, has plenty of nice touches to it, though I'm not sure if a tour guide would really tells guests that a hotel is first class as long as you don't read trip advisor too closely. And the police procedurals aren't exactly what you would see in The Wire, or even Midsomer Murders.

But this isn't the kind of production you nitpick about. Despite it being about a serial killer it has a nice warm glow to it. Vegas and Gibson make a lovely couple, though I couldn't help thinking of Peter Kay in the Vegas role. There's a definite Car Share vibe going on between Terry and Emma. And funnily the climax happens in Blackpool, where Kay recorded one of his breakthrough live videos.

It's all thoroughly escapist fun. Don't bother trying to guess whodunnit as you won't be right. A few red herrings and twists make sure of that. But that doesn't really matter. Just relax, open up a box of chocolates and enjoy.

Saturday, November 11, Gold, 9.30pm & Sunday, November 12, 7pm.

Picture: Ollie Upton.

Hello! Thanks for reading all the way down. I wish I could give you a prize. But BTJ needs your support to continue - if you would like to help to keep the site going, please consider donating.

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.