Camp, retro and enjoyable for a glass or two, this Christmas Carol revamp is full of surreal gags, with Johnny Vegas and John Cooper Clarke offering ghostly support
Mandy (BBC Two) is a curious creation, and this is a curious Christmas special. Diane Morgan’s short, tart comedy series arrived in the middle of 2020 with a sideways pout, an outstanding roster of northern royalty guest stars and six episodes that barely stretched to 15 minutes each. The first series was best watched in one sitting: lumping it all together gave it more heft than watching it in short snatches. By the end of the series, I started to feel as if I got the tone and had locked on to the dry, edge-of-surreal mood of it.
Morgan is, of course, a brilliant comedy performer. From Philomena Cunk half-arsing her way around Britain, to Liz puncturing the middle-class uppityness of her fellow parents in Motherland, her characters possess the ability to turn a deadpan line or a withering putdown into a lethal weapon. Mandy isn’t dry or droll, as such. She flops around town getting herself into scrapes, while smoking and ensuring her beehive remains perfectly perched. That is about the extent of it, although if you see each episode as an extended run-up to an outrageous, over-the-top gag, then its pace starts to make more sense. Whether Mandy is killing several members of the public due to negligent banana processing, watching a death by glitter ball or taking part in a wedding with a Shaun Ryder cameo, you mostly watch to see how bizarre the ending will be.