TV Review: Urban Myths – Johnny Cash And The Ostrich, Sky Arts

Yes siree, that is Frank Skinner playing country legend Johnny Cash hiding behind a snowman while trying to set a trap for an ostrich in his back garden. The latest one-off film in this entertaining series of true-ish stories finds Johnny Cash holed up in Nottingham motel daubing angry messages on the walls in hot chocolate. A sort of dirty protest, Cadbury's style.

It's 1983 and Cash is going through a career trough. But it is not the lack of chart success that is causing him to trash his room and bloody his hand, it's his torment over an incident with an ostrich. He is haunted by an encounter with the flightless bird and can't let it go. We gradually find out what happened in flashback. 

Luckily hotel manager Jean – Isy Suttie – is on hand to calm Cash down. His tour manager J-J also pitches up.  J-J is played by Alex Beckett, who died suddenly last week, so this must have been one of his last roles, and it's a very different role to his part of W1A. He has an Irish accent and is wearing a rock and roll pony tail. It's J-J who has to explain to the local tabloid press what has gone on in the room and why Cash has a bandaged hand, though it is Skinner's Cash who comes out with a memorable "Ring of Fire" pun version of events.

It's not suprising that the script is sharp and funny, it was written by Skinner. The stand-up is an excellent writer but maybe a less convincing actor. While this is very watchable I couldn't help thinking throughout that I was watching Frank Skinner of Room 101 in a black wig doing the deep Cash drawl. He does look like he is having fun though and there's a very nice sight gag involving a rubber bath mat.

Emily Lloyd-Saini and Toby Williams play other members of the hotel staff and this is directed by Al Campbell. And I've managed to get to the end of this review without mentioning Bernie Clifton.  

Review: Urban Myths – Johnny Cash And The Ostrich, Sky Arts, Thursday, April 26, 9pm. All episodes available to Sky Subscribers now.

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