TV Review: Year of the Rabbit

Opinion: Top Comedies 2019

I've read in various advance publicity interviews for Year of the Rabbit that its star Matt Berry calls it "The Sweeney but in Victorian times." Thanks for doing my review for me Matt. I didn't realise quote how literal he was being. OK, there's no "get yer clothes on you're nicked" but then I'm not sure if that actual often-quoted line ever appeared in the old John Thaw cop show anyway. Oh, and there are more laughs here. And a cameo from the Elephant Man.

And there are plenty of other rough and ready lines, mainly but not exclusively, from Berry, who gets an "additional material" credit, and sometimes sounds a bit like an angry Alan Sugar. The main co-writers are Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil, who have worked on various classy comedies including the much more erudite Veep.

Year of the Rabbit follows swaggering, booze-sodden Detective Inspector Rabbit (Berry) as he goes crimebusting with his giddy, posh, foppish new partner Strauss (Freddie Fox). Also tagging along is Mabel  (Susan Wokoma), the sweary daughter of the unashamedly northern chief of police (Alun Armstrong) who wants to be London’s first female officer rather than a "strangled girl in fog". Can they clean up the capital's mean streets and still get to the pub before closing time? 

The over-the-top fast-paced gin-soaked first episode sets things up pretty well. Berry is suitably boorish and Paul Kaye also pitches up as dandyish rival detective Tanner of the Yard. Look out too for a very hairy corpse and Keeley Hawes in a small but clearly pivotal role as the plot takes off towards the end. I'm not sure how historically accurate Year of the Rabbit is, but it is definitely something of a sitcom oddity. A welcome one though. Hip, effing hip, hooray.

Year of the Rabbit, Mondays from 10 June at 10pm on Channel 4.


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