Martin Fishback

TV preview by Steve Bennett

Fergus Craig stuck viral gold during lockdown with his alter-ego Martin, the worst kind of middle-class, self-important  boomer, making shouty video calls to his student son. Now wise BBC executives have commissioned this 15-minute taster to bring this socially inept twerp to a wider audience.

Petty and pedantic, but far too arrogant to be aware of his shortcomings, Fishback is a classic sitcom confection. He’s redolent of another Martin, Richard Briers’s Ever Decreasing Circles character, mixed in with a good dollop of Alan Partridge – and writ much larger than either.

We meet him as his 25-year career in toothpaste comes to an end. With an elevated sense of his own abilities, Martin decides to become a crime novelist, dashing off clunky clichéd passages about no-nonsense detective Roger LeCarre, who ‘runs one 10k per day but probably burns more calories just shaking his head at what has become of his city, Exeter… the crime capital of East Devon’. The prose is so awful it could have been ripped from the pages of a Nadine Dorries novel. (And, indeed, Craig has written a real book in this voice, Once Upon A Crime)

Away from the wittily overblown parody, the TV version allows Martin to move away from his computer screen and interact with his family. In the pilot, his son Marcus (Declan Baxter) – the previously unseen recipient of the video messages – brings his new girlfriend home, providing plenty of opportunities for Dad to embarrass himself. As if embarrassment was in his vocabulary.

Ambika Mod, so good in This Is Going To Hurt last night, makes her second fine supporting appearance of the week as mild-mannered Samah, while Samantha Spiro shows her comedy chops as Martin’s very long-suffering, highly-strung wife Margaret, self-medicating with morning champagne. Scenes are stolen, however, by Nathan Foad’s PC Scott Hunniford, even more moronically inept than Martin, but with absolutely none of the self-assurance.

The result is a winning mix of witty, knowing comedy lines and a broader slapstick – anchored by a grotesque who’s endlessly irritating but, in Craig’s skilled hands, no so unbearable that we don’t want to spend time with him.

Hopefully these 15 short minutes are just the start.

• Martin Fishback is on BBC Two at 10.15pm tonight

Read More

Published: 9 Feb 2022

Colin & Fergus

It's easy to see why powerful comedy agent Avalon snapped…


We do not currently hold contact details for Fergus Craig's agent. If you are a comic or agent wanting your details to appear here, for a one-off fee of £59, email

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.