At the start of this year I wrote about some of the comedy that was due to come out in 2012, amongst those programmes was Dead Boss which debuted on BBC Three earlier on this evening with a double-bill.
Co-written by Sharon Horgan (Pulling) and Holly Walsh (8 Out of 10 Cats), Dead Boss is a new prison based sitcom that tells the story of Helen (Horgan) who is imprisoned for murdering her boss at Entirely Tiles, Eric Bridges. Walsh is said to make a little cameo in the final episode of the first series.
If you haven't seen the show yet, then the easiest way in which I can describe it is as a 'murder mystery' comedy... think Bad Girls meets Psychoville & 'the sitcom' genre, and you'll be along the right lines. The 'mystery' element begins when 'stalker' Henry, from Entirely Tiles, comes to visit her, and we see Helen begin to piece together the events before Eric's death.
All the 'evidence' Helen has seems to suggest she is innocent and therefore has been wrongly imprisoned. Has she? Who knows?! But Horgan's brilliant portrayal helps us want to stick on this journey with her. The sitcom switches between her old place of work and prison, both world's meeting to try and get the truth as to what happened to Eric Bridges and featuring a brilliant supporting cast.
Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous) is undoubtedly 'comedy royalty' and her character in Dead Boss, Margaret the Governor is brilliant and Saunders at her best and I have a feeling that the audience, like me, will really warm to her character. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that Horgan and Walsh 'begged' Jennifer Saunders to play the role describing her as their 'dream cast'.
In the first episode we are introduced to Margaret when Helen asks for her an appeal to which Margaret responds with a few home truths for Helen and tells her that she's 'going to be in here a very long time'.
It's great to see Saunders in something other than French & Saunders or Absolutely Fabulous and fingers crossed that her role in Dead Boss will run and run in the same way those other shows have.
Aside from Helen (Sharon Horgan) and Margaret (Jennifer Saunders) the cast is built up of some great talent with two standout supporting characters being Christine and Tony.
Christine, played by Bryony Hannah (Call The Midwife) is Helen's cellmate and there's no doubting that her character offers the most laughs and in the first episode.
One of my favourite moments in tonight's episode was when they were confronted about being lesbians and Helen responds with 'she's not my girlfriend, she's my cellmate' which Christine responds with 'oh that's lovely, and you're my soulmate too', mistaking 'cellmate' for 'soulmate'. Her personality often gets her into trouble and lands her into trouble with those around her.
Another moment which had me laughing out loud (a lot) was when she gets all agitated over being told where to sit and mentions the word 'troll' a little to often for some people's liking.
We then move on to Tony, played by Geoff McGivern, who is Helen's lawyer and his personalit fits nicely into the comedy world and has the makings of a great, well-rounded comedy character. His life however takes an unexpected turn towards the end of Episode One and the best part of Episode Two, as he begins to receive mystery threats. This adds in to the 'murder mystery' element that I mentioned earlier.
It apparently took Horgan and Walsh several years to bring Dead Boss to screen and it seems it was certainly worth the wait as all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the first episode. But the fun didn't stop there... oh no... BBC Three definitely 'fed our funny' as they treated us to a double helping of Dead Boss tonight, so we got to watch episodes one and two back to back!
And what a cracking second episode it was, focussing on the annual prison quiz where the top prize was to knock 5 years off of your sentence! Other prizes included a tin of biscuits and a supersize bottle of conditioner. I won't give away where Helen and her team 'We bought it was a disco' ended or what prize (if any) they won.
Final verdict? A very strong start to what appears to be a winning sitcom for BBC Three. Full of charm, great stories and great performances, I hope to see a second series commissioned very soon as the many characters involved in Dead Boss are so well created that I feel they will benefit from more than just 6 episodes which is next to no time at all.