Review: Cuckoo, Series Five, BBC Three, BBC One, iPlayer

The fifth series of Cuckoo is very much what you might call the WTF series. WTF happen to Dale? And WTF is film superstar Andie MacDowell doing in a BBC Three series set in Lichfield?

The first question is given a very cursory explanation. In the first episode Rachel (Esther Smith) is living back home and replies, when asked about Dale, "he's gone". Well, it's an explanation of sorts.

As for Andie McDowell, well I guess the series does have a history of pulling in big American names, having previously featured Taylor Lautner as Dale and Andy Samberg. But McDowell, as Ivy Mittelfart, the wife of American billionaire Rob Mettelfart, is definitely the biggest catch yet.

In the first episode it turns out that Ivy is the long lost sister of Ken Thompson (Greg Davies) and isn't just visiting him for sentimental reasons. She also wants to pay a lot of money for his body after he is dead to work out the secret of eternal life. Which seems perfectly reasonable to me, he's not using it any more, but for some reason Ken objects. Until, of course, he finds out how much she is prepared to pay.

If you can get over the fact that the plot – which inevitably involves Ken concealing big heavy gold bars around his body while walking out of a bank – is pretty ludicrous, there is some fun to be had here. MacDowell has something of a Cruella de Vil meets Jerry Hall quality. And Davies is always good value as the frankly hapless Ken. Writers Robin French and Kieron Quirke do have a distinctive style, a kind of suburban absurdism approach to the sitcom genre, where almost anything can happen. In Lichfield. 

My only issue with Ken is I was a bit confused when he said was a lawyer. I can't be the only one who thought he was a teacher and then realised I was getting Cuckoo confused with C4's Man Down. I think it's fair to say that Davies' character in Cuckoo and his character in Man Down are far more closely related than Ivy is to Ken. 

Watch the full series of Cuckoo here now or one BBC One on Friday nights.

Picture: BBC/Rough Cut/Robert Parfitt


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