TV: Hang Ups, Channel 4

Boy oh boy that Stephen Mangan has a hell of a work ethic. As well as appearing in lots of other shows he now stars in Hang Ups, a UK version of the US hit Web Therapy, in which he plays online therapist Richard Pitt. Not only that but it's made by his production company. And he also writes it. Well, I say writes it, the programme is largely devised via improvisation with a stellar cast. And judging by the first episode it works a treat.

We are quickly introduced to the regulars. Pitt, his wife, played by Katherine Parkinson, and their children and children's friends. Everyone seems to clutter up the beautiful Pitt home where Richard is trying to set up his new business. We also get to meet his own therapist, played by Richard E Grant with a wry off-kilter smirk. And Karl Theobald from Green Wing plays Richard's nutty web designer Pete.

It's a very modern show. A lot of it is viewed on laptop screens and Facetiming smartphones. In fact when there's a lovely bit of fallabout slapstick towards the end it's a surprise that nobody films it as everybody seems to have their phones out all the time.

Most of the fun here comes via the clients. Sarah Hadland plays a repressed mum still working through a pubic hair-based trauma at boarding school which has made her hate Bengal cats. Lolly Adefope plays Angie, who isn't bothered about making friends, she just wants more instagram followers, hashtag living the dream. Kevin Eldon, Monica Dolan and David Tennant are among those appearing in future episodes. 

These scenes are like beautiful little sketches, whizzing in and out and never outstaying their welcome. The same applies to Richard's chats with his dad (Charles Dance) and, best of all, his stony faced clinical supervisor, played by Alice Lowe, who barely cracks a smile even when she says: "I've not laughed this hard in ages."

A subplot is about Richard paying off his debts to avoid having his arms broken. He ends up offering the loan shark online therapy instead of payment. Let's hope he's good at it or he won't be in a position to bash the laptop keys in future episodes.

Hang Ups, Channel 4, 10pm, Wednesdays from August 8.


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