We Recommend: Cricklewood Greats

Sneaking out on BBC4 over the weekend, Cricklewood Greats was a spoof documentary presented, co-written and directed by Peter Capaldi. It charted the (completely fictional) rise and fall of Cricklewood Studios, its stars and the effect they (never) had on Capaldi’s life.

So one might call it a “mockumentary”, although I think that’s a horrible word. So I won’t be using it.

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Nonetheless, the show itself is a lean 45 minutes of gentle but clever comedy. Despite his fame as a constantly swearing spin psychopath, Capaldi is a warm, calm narrator here. He delivers some ludicrous mocking lines (“Her death was one she would never recover from”), not just in deadpan, but utterly earnest.

Of course, although he is known as ranting lunatic Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, Capaldi was often seen in calmer, friendly roles before that. His great performance as an out-of-his-depth civil servant in Torchwood: Miracle Day was much more typical.

There are a couple of familiar faces backing Capaldi up, including ubiquitous British comedy actor Alex McQueen (Julius “Baldemort” Nicholson in Thick Of It) as an enthusiastic Cricklewood superfan and movie director Terry Gilliam sending himself up gently.

Cricklewood Greats may not change lives, and the joke would’ve stretched thin over the course of a whole series, but as a one-off, this is an enjoyable send-up of both old-school movies and the entire mission documentary genre. Capaldi is clearly enjoying himself, pretending to have emotional epiphanies at the sight of completely ludicrous things. Just wait for Doctor Worm.

Cricklewood Greats was on BBC4 last night and is now available on iPlayer for a week. Check it out, also the official BBC site for more information.

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