TV Review: Staged, BBC One

TV Review: Staged, BBC One

One is a Welshman from Port Talbot with a gift for impersonations. The other is a more nervy character and although they seem to be friends there is also a tension about status under the surface. No, it's not a new series of The Trip with Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan, it's Staged, a new lockdown-filmed comedy starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant.

Like Brydon and Coogan though, Tennant and Sheen are kind of playing themselves, while their partners pop into Zoom-shot every now and again. Sheen and Tennant are supposed to have been rehearsing for a production of Pirandello's Six Characters In Search Of An Author but Covid has scuppered that. Until theatre director Simon Evans (Staged is based on an original idea by Evans and Phin Glynn and written and directed by Evans) has the bright idea that they can rehearse online so that they are ready as soon as theatres reopen: "The British public will need entertainment."

There isn't much in the way of rehearsals in the first episode though. Instead we get a Dylan Thomas impression from Sheen, some awkward conversations and a nose around what are presumably their real houses. Although Tennant's scarily sparse bedroom does look a little like an upmarket Travelodge.

While this isn't up to Trip standards there are some wry moments, such as when they compare their DIY art efforts. Sheen has gone full JMW Turner landscape, Tennant's pineapple is more Tony Hancock in The Rebel. 

There is clearly some good screen chemistry between them even via Zoom – they appeared together in Good Omens – which helps to keep things interesting when your attention might wander towards Tennant's wallpaper. This isn't quite as gripping as i hoped but then I was disappointed by the first episode of the last series of The Trip and that turned out to be brilliant. It's a tad indulgent but I wouldn't write this off yet. There is certainly plenty of promise here and at 15 minutes an episode it definitely doesn't outstay its welcome.

Staged, BBC One, Wednesdays from June 10, 10.45pm and will be available as a box set on BBC iPlayer after transmission.

Picture: BBC/GCB Films/Infinity Hill/Simon Ridgeway/Paul Stephenson




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