The beginning of a new year saw the return of a much-loved sitcom to our screens: Count Arthur Strong, a television adaptation of Steve Delaney’s long-running radio show. Despite only watching a few episodes of series one, I really did enjoy watching the entirety of it this time round.
What appeals to me about this programme is that there is always an unexpected twist to the plot of each episode, which makes it entertaining viewing despite following the seemingly well-trodden path of the popular sitcom. The storylines are never too airy or ridiculous because the show has a continuous plot, with ideas carried on throughout the series, which seems to give the whole programme a reason for existing; the stories never become entirely redundant.
With Delaney having teamed up with one of my favourite comedy writers, Graham Linehan, this show was probably destined to have a hilarious script. They skilfully build the hilarity and stupidity of the situations Michael and Arthur get themselves into, but never rely on laughs that are that bit too easy. These writers have proved that they’d rather go the long way round, and have created a more effective comedy as a result.
There have been criticisms of Count Arthur Strong and I hadn’t fully invested in it from the beginning so was anticipating that I would not enjoy this series. However, my doubts were unfounded because I laughed throughout every single episode, because of Arthur’s lines like “all work and no play makes Jack… and Jill went up the hill…” and his overall persona. I felt no hint of cynicism at all.
This programme is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of comedy thanks to Steve Delaney and Rory Kinnear’s wonderful on-screen relationship and a fantastic script. I look forward to a third series if and when it comes.