Tag Archives: British Comedy

MINDHORN (2016) dir. Sean Foley

26 Jun

Back in the 1980s, a television programme called Bergerac staring John Nettles and set on Jersey island, was a household staple in the UK. The hero was a private detective solving the mysteries of Jersey. Closer to France than England, Jersey has brilliant blue skies, beautiful hedgerows, and is a kind of English, exotic, offshore tax haven paradise in the Channel.

There were numerous references to John Nettles in Mindhorn the movie. Set on the Isle of Man in the bleak Irish sea, Mindhorn was a popular television programme in the 1980s, apparently, when actor Richard Thorncroft played Detective Mindhorn, whose eye the Russians had replaced with a cybernetic one. In 2016 Richard Thorncroft advertises support socks and girdles for men. He lives in a flat in Walthamstow. He’s lost that ‘profile’ he needs to find himself cast in anything significant. He often mentions John Nettles.

His ex-costar and ex-girlfriend, Pat Deville, is now a reporter and living with his former stunt double in a big Manx house. His other co-stars are also still on the island and vengeful that he quit the show for Hollywood and thereby ended their careers. Thorncroft (played by Julian Barratt) decides to help out with a real-life murder case with the expectation he’ll be able to salvage something of his former glory.

Thorncroft will play Mindhorn once again in order to lure the suspect in. The Kestrel (the murder suspect pretends to be a kestrel) believes Mindhorn is real, you see.

About half way through the movie, Thorncroft is told he is ‘not only unemployed but unemployable’ by his agent, having epic failed with The Kestrel. The ferry comes to take him back to the mainland and then the action begins. Farcical undoubtedly, laugh-out-loud funny in places, Julian Barratt plays another variation of the boring geography teacher persona he’s well known for as Howard Moon in The Mighty Boosh. 

The surprises are no surprise and the plot twists are no surprise, but Mindhorn is basic British humour in its element. Cheap like the Chuckle Brothers and absurd like Faulty Towers, complete with a traditional village fete, the corporate base and offshore tax haven that is the Isle of Man hasn’t seen such publicity since Joey Dunlop won yet another TT race.