Mandy review – Diane Morgan writes and stars in a collection of daft, dopey adventures

August 15, 2020
Jonathon Wilson 0
BBC, TV Reviews
3

Summary

It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as you might expect or hope for, but there are surely worse ways to spend 15 minutes.

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3

Summary

It’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as you might expect or hope for, but there are surely worse ways to spend 15 minutes.

This review of Mandy is spoiler-free.


Mandy is the brainchild of comic Diane Morgan, a deadpan Boltonian who was a scene-stealer as moronic reporter Philomena Cunk and in supporting roles in both Motherland and Ricky Gervais’s After Life. She has a certain daring cult appeal that fits quite snugly in this extremely daft but occasionally cutting collection of absurdist adventures, which are all available on BBC iPlayer in handy 15-minute chunks.

That short length is the secret weapon of Mandy, since each episode would outstay its welcome if it went on just a second longer than it does. But the exploits of the eponymous chain-smoking, big-haired jobseeker, in her Bianca Jackson fur-lined bomber jacket, have a wry attitude that’s easy to get along with, even if they lack big belly-laughs. Mandy herself, who trades Morgan’s usual straight face for a lopsided pout and lollops along on perilously long legs, is funny in large part because you know she’s in on her own joke.

That joke isn’t that she’s a pastiche of unemployed chavs – or at least that isn’t the only joke. Each situation Mandy finds herself starts out silly and only gets more ludicrous from there. In the opening episode, her exasperated employment advisor gets her a mindless gig splattering tarantulas at a local banana packers and before the end of her first day, 17 people are dead. The jokes are more situational than one-line zingers, although there are a couple of those too.

It’s the guest stars who make it; Maxine Peake shows up as Mandy’s old rival, whom she challenges to an interminably long line-dancing competition, and Michelle Greenidge plays her best friend, Lola, who is the only character aside from Mandy herself who is in every episode. The fact that she knows voodoo is a risqué gag that you have to imagine everyone’s in on too, which is why it just about works.

Mandy’s too scattershot and not quite funny enough to have any kind of staying power, but it has a lot of fun in its cumulative ninety minutes, and it’s hard to imagine most viewers won’t see the appeal – at least in small doses. Morgan’s a talent, and you get the sense that before long she’s going to be responsible for something truly brilliant. This isn’t quite it, but it’ll do in the meantime.


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