On the 26th August new comedy A Touch of Cloth hit our screens courtesy of Sky 1. Written by Charlie Brooker and Daniel Maier, this new show tells the story of DCI Jack Cloth – played by John Hannah – who finds himself investigating a string of brutal murders whilst dealing with the tragic loss of his wife.
Don’t be fooled into thinking this spoof has any serious undertones – despite bloodshed and the grieving protagonist. Instead, Brooker and Maier have packed this new series with endless laughs which hit you like a landslide. Such is the relentless nature of the gags, you will find yourself pausing your television in order digest the barrage you’ll be hit with scene after scene.
Indeed the most impressive aspect of A Touch of Cloth is how every single opportunity has been taken to tickle the audience. The potential of each character is fully maximised in order to keep the flow of jokes coming. Cloth’s assistant DC Anne Oldman (Suranne Jones) – pronounced ‘an old man’ – is a prime example of how merely the names of the characters is seen by Brooker and Maier as a chance to force another giggle from the audience. DCI Cloth is involved in similar name related humour, as the dialogue often has his surname following on from “washing up” or “damp”. Furthermore, we see regular appearances of a cardboard cut-out female police officer – casually referred to as “WPC Cardboard Cutout”. Such examples show how the writers knowing no boundaries when it comes to accentuating the silliness of the show.
Furthermore, each role is beautifully tailored to encapsulate the true spirit of the spoof genre. It comes across as a competition between each character; who can out do the other to take the spoof crown. DC Asap Qureshi (Navin Chowdhry) is the well informed member of the team – boasting detailed information on the least relevant issues. DC Des Hairihan (Adrian Bower) is the perverted right-hand man, whose catchphrase “I think you better take a look at this gov” always results in a drool fest over the nearest female frame. Forensic scientist Natasha Sachet (Daisy Beaumont) provides filthy innuendos directed at Cloth and ACC Tom Boss (Julian Rhind-Tutt) is Cloth’s sanctimonious superior, whose lack of intelligence is clear to see to all bar himself. Ultimately, each character fulfills a key role in making this show tick every box of the spoof category. This exemplifies the determination of Brooker and Maier to leave no stone unturned in a quest to make the ultimate spoof.
However, the show does appear to make room for serious undertones. Cloth is shown to be struggling to come to terms with the loss of his wife – exemplified by flashbacks of her death and conversations with a ghostly image of her. But don’t worry. This has not been allowed to materialize into any kind of serious sub-plot. Even this morbid experience is hijacked by Brooker and Maier in order to fuel the comedic fire. The prime example is where Cloth’s conversation with his late wife – a pale white figure and a figment of his imagination – turns to domestic issues similar to that between an average married couple. It’s moments like this that you realise A Touch of Cloth won’t allow itself to be anything but the ultimate spoof.
Yet with this endless barrage of constant gags comes some issues. The story can at times be hard to follow, as the sheer amount of jokes serve as a distraction from the storyline. Further still, you find yourself missing out on the plot and simply more of the well crafted one-liners as you still try to process the comedic onslaught from the previous scene. This can at times leave you overwhelmed with silliness and thus clouding the narrative.
All in all however, A Touch of Cloth is armed with an excellent script which leaves no stone unturned and no opportunity lost when it comes to ensuring constant hilarity. The lead characters each execute a specific role and by doing so ensure every base is covered when it comes to individual silliness. Moreover, each scene is seized as a potential to be overrun with hidden gags which will keep your eyes scanning each scene to uncover one more wisecrack. Overall, Brooker and Maier have written a constantly silly and at times overwhelmingly funny package which grabs the spoof category with both hands and runs with it.
For any jokes you do miss, the DVD of A Touch of Cloth is available on the 3rd September 2012.