TV: Intelligence, Sky One

TV: Intelligence, Sky One

Nick Mohammed has been a familiar face in quality comedy shows in recent years, cropping up in memorable programmes including Stath Lets Flats, Cuckoo and Sally4Ever. Now he gets a show of his own, which he writes and stars in and, a bit of a scoop, he gets to act alongside David Schwimmer.

Intelligence is a workplace comedy set in GCHQ in Cheltenham. Mohammed plays Joseph Harries, a nerdy bod with a bit of a Matthew McConaughey fixation. Schwimmer plays Jerry Epstein, a hard-nosed American who has been brought over for some US-Anglo liaison but thinks he owns the place. In fact he is answerable to stiff-lipped Director of Cyber Security Christine Clark (Sylvestra Le Touzel).

The scene is set for some classic culture clash-meets-personality clash status-games humour. Joseph’s colleagues are mixed bag of oddballs, from nose-ringed super hacker Tuva Olsen (Gana Bayarsaikhan) to frizzy-haired eccentric Mary Needham (Jane Stanness) who looks as if she hasn’t seen sunlight this side of the millennium.

The first episode sets things up nicely by introducing the characters and the potential areas of comedy conflict. Schwimmer’s Bernstein is determined is impose and assert himself, getting the staff to do trust games and bribing them with jelly beans. He also wants music and aircon in the office which doesn’t go down too well with the stuffy Brits.

The funniest moments are Bernstein’s interactions with Joseph, who he treats as his dogsbody. They have excellent chemistry and in one particularly strong scene Schwimmer lifts Mohammed up like a rag doll or a child so that he can look into the retina recognition control to open a door. 

It’s fast paced stuff stylishly filmed. The fact that the people there are doing the kind of work that might foil a terrorist threat doesn’t really come into play in the opening episode. It will be interesting to see how the serious side of GCHQ’s work is used for laughs. But as a simple, personality-led office comedy this does the business. It is not surprise that Sky has already ordered a second series. 

Intelligence, Sky One, Fridays from February 21, 9pm.

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