mon 24/06/2024

Mister Winner, BBC2 review - gentle comedy about one of life's losers | reviews, news & interviews

Mister Winner, BBC2 review - gentle comedy about one of life's losers

Mister Winner, BBC2 review - gentle comedy about one of life's losers

Spencer Jones plays a modern-day Frank Spencer

Spencer Jones is Leslie, trying but failing to get through life without mishap

Spencer Jones, a clownish stand-up, has been responsible for some the cheeriest, daftest and most heart-warming shows at the Edinburgh Fringe, where he has twice been nominated in Dave's Edinburgh Comedy Awards (ECA). Others may know him from his scene-stealing turn in Upstart Crow, where he channels Ricky Gervais in the character of Will Kempe.

Now, in Matt Morgan's new comedy, he plays Leslie Winner who, despite his best intentions, is forever finding himself in a pickle.

Last night's opening episode of this six-parter introduced us to the ironically named Leslie, drifting through life without making much of a mark. He's a sweet, optimistic guy who can never catch a break, while those around him are exasperated by his latest escapade – a sort of updated version of Frank Spencer of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em. But Leslie is determined to get his act together before marrying Jemma (Lucy Pearman, another ECA nominee), and finally impress her dad, Chris (Shaun Williamson), by paying for a decent honeymoon.

To that end, it involved Leslie finding a pianola in the house clearance he was doing with Chris, but not before we were treated to a splendid visual gag – in which Leslie was caught in a fire evacuation with dozens of acupuncture needles stuck in his body – which took fully three minutes to set up before we got to the very funny payoff.

In truth, it was the funniest moment in the show, where the laughs were mostly gentle with an occasional snorter. Leslie managed to finagle – by virtue of a misunderstanding and by telling a white lie – a job playing said pianola, now disguised as a piano and Leslie as a talented pianist, in a chi-chi Italian restaurant.

He got rumbled, first by a waitress who scammed him for half his wage, then – rather more predictably – by the pianola's technology letting him down. And er, that was all that happened really, with no great tension, not even between Leslie and his future father-in-law.

Morgan was happy to let the story develop slowly, even repeating the piano/pianola gag several times in different ways. But early days, and any deficiencies in narrative and the pace of Andrew Chaplin's direction was made up for by Jones, who makes Leslie a warm and likeable character.

The laughs were mostly gentle with an occasional snorter


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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