The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk | Review by Steve Bennett © BBC
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The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk

Review by Steve Bennett

TV REVIEW: Amid the trend for meaningful, realistic comedies such as Fleabag, how refreshing it is to have The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk back for a full(ish) series of unadulterated, visually stunning stupidity following a successful pilot last year. 

Each episode might only be ten minutes long, but creator Spencer Jones has packed more invention, silliness, charm and wit into each one than some sitcoms manage in a season. Not a second of screen time is wasted, with sight gags everywhere and a jaunty DIY soundtrack that allows a fast-cut pop-video-style shooting technique.

There are also three plotlines crammed into the first episode, all of them admittedly pretty cursory: a running gag about dogshit; jeopardy provided by the fact our hero has to come up with a radio jingle for the minicab business run by local hardman nutter Tubby Taylor; and a family trip to the car boot sale, which gives Herbert the excuse to handle a miscellany of items, each of them converted into preposterously unlikely props with an absurd wit.

The way inanimate objects come to life, from his front door to a phrenology head, has echoes of the cutaways in The Young Ones – though that’s not to diminish the originality or the creativity of the execution here. Meanwhile, techniques such as the ping-pong-ball eyes and iPad face give the show a distinctive, freakish look.

Yet for all the wildly surreal touches, the show maintains a grip on its own reality. Co-star Lucy Pearman, especially, helps maintain a semblance of normality with the lightest of touches. Even if normality is not what you seek from Herbert Clunkerdunk.

Half an hour might have stretched the required suspensions of disbelief to breaking point or risked the shows becoming overwhelmed by a cutesiness that could push them into corny kids’ TV territory, especially as the show is already pretty family-friendly.

But these short episodes are a perfect blast of highly distilled comedy, packing a potent kick of outlandish, laugh-out-loud humour that will bear repeated viewing until you know the scenes inside-out, yet still find hidden gags in the detail. It’s an insanely funny piece of work.

• The Mind Of Herbert Clunkerdunk has just been released on BBC iPlayer and will air on BBC Two at 10pm tomorrow.

Review date: 3 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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