Review: Death On The Tyne, Christmas Gold

It was pretty brave of Gold to schedule this one-off film on primetime on a Saturday night in the run-up to Christmas. But then the channel had reason to be ambitious. Their previous all-star Agatha Christie spoof starring Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson, Murder on the Blackpool Express, was the highest-ever rating show on Gold. They will be hoping for the same here. And they might just get it.

Vegas and Gibson are once again Terry and Gemma of Draper's Tours and now a couple – Terry wants to propose and is just waiting for the right moment. This time they are booked to take a coach party on a ferry to Amsterdam, but the bookings have not gone quite to plan. They only have three geriatric passengers, but randy Mildred, dotty Hilda and Colleen, played by Sheila Reid, Georgie Glen and Sue Johnston, are more than enough to deal with.

And then there are various subplots such as the captain's rivalry with a younger officer. James Fleet is the captain, Tony Gardner his number two and Doon Mackichan as the cabaret chanteuse who is cross between Jane McDonald and Lady Macbeth. The always watchable Felicity Montagu also crops up as one of the crew and Don Gilet and David Mumeni chip in as well.

Oh, and then there is the small matter of the serial killer on board who is dressed as a shark and keeps bumping off passengers and staff in increasingly bizarre ways. One of the victims is Jason Cook, who wrote this and doesn't deserve to get his head bashed in in return.

So just in case you haven't seen this we won't give away whodunnit. It's a fun film with a mainstream sense of humour. There are occasional echoes of a low-budget Titanic at times, and, maybe it was just me, but for a while I thought the corridor chases were heavily influenced by Alien. There are gags about osteoporosis, the menopause and bingo dabbers, which have a whiff of Victoria Wood, but Cook's writing is distinctive too. He is certainly good at coming up with original ways of killing people so I don't dare give him a bad review.

Watch Death on the Tyne on catch-up here and/or also watch it at 5.20pm on Sunday, December 16.


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