Whatever your plans are for the next three Saturday evenings, cancel them, because you’re going to want to stay in and watch BBC Two’s unmissable new dark comic thriller Stag.
Written and created by Jim Field Smith and George Kay, Stag is a new three-part comic thriller about a group of obnoxious friends on a Stag weekend from hell in the Scottish Highlands.
Jim Field Smith is of course the man who in 2013 brought us The Wrong Mans (starring James Corden), which can also be described as a comedy thriller. Comparisons between that and Stag are always going to be there, of course they are, but I’d argue that there are more differences than there are similarities.
Tonally, I think Stag is very different. Dare I say, I laughed a lot more during The Wrong Mans than I did during Stag, primarily because I was so drawn into the story and trying to work out what was happening, what was going to happen and who was behind it all, because ultimately Stag is a whodunnit.
What begins as a fairly normal stag weekend, turns into the stag weekend from hell, as the hunters become the hunted, and are eliminated one by one, sordid secrets emerge and old friendships are tested to the limit.
It’s rare these days for a television show to be made-up solely of men, but that’s exactly what Stag is (although Sharon Rooney does appear for a little bit at the start).
So I guess it comes as no surprise to learn that one of the things Jim Field Smith wanted to do with the series, was to put “masculinity on trial” and speaking at a recent press launch for the series he went to say: "The best arena for that kind of thing is a stag weekend. There’s not a worse example of men or masculinity than there is on a stag."
And if Stag only does one thing, it’s prove that fact. Sorry men, but we don’t exactly come out of this very well. Jim Howick plays Geography teacher Ian, who’s also the bride’s brother, and by far my favourite character.
He turns up in his tuxedo, believing the dress code for the stag was black tie, is left standing in the pouring rain for hours waiting for the rest of the group (who never turn up, they went straight to the pub) and is forced into playing catch up when he does arrive and before he knows it he’s the last one left in the pub and the one footing the bill.
Whilst the rest of the group are happy to be there, it’s clear that Ian isn't. He’s not friends with any of the other guys and appears to move in completely different social circles and it’s for that reason that he’s a brilliant character.
Talking of brilliant characters, Stag isn’t short of them. Rufus Jones plays Cosmo, who works in TV development, the groom, Jonners is played by Stephen Campbell Moore (The Wrong Mans) and Reece Shearsmith (Inside No. 9) plays Wendy, their accountant,
There’s also Mexican, played by Amit Shah, Ledge, played by JJ Field, Aitken, played by Tim Key, Christoph, played by Christian Van Vuuren, Neils, played by Pilou Asbaek (Borgen), and the Gamekeeper, played by James Cosmo (Game Of Thrones).
Since the screening, I have now watched all three episodes and I can assure you that it just gets better and better, there are plenty of twists and turns and the more you get to know the characters, the more you fall in love with them.
Saturday night might be a bit of an unusual slot for a show like Stag, but of course in today’s world it doesn’t really matter when a show is aired, it matters that people are talking about it and are then compelled to seek it out on catchup. So however people choose to watch Stag, I just really hope that they do.