Aidan Smith's TV week: Bloods, Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping, Frank of Ireland

When the stars of Motherland got back on set for the new season coming next week, the “What have you been up to?” chat must have been interesting.
Samson Kayo and Jane Horrocks are a mercy-wagon odd couple in the paramedics comedy BloodsSamson Kayo and Jane Horrocks are a mercy-wagon odd couple in the paramedics comedy Bloods
Samson Kayo and Jane Horrocks are a mercy-wagon odd couple in the paramedics comedy Bloods

Anna Maxwell Martin could have told the gang how she got into character for Britain’s smuggest boss in Line of Duty. Paul Ready could have described what it was like playing a cannibal in Terror. And Lucy Punch could have explained her journey from alpha mummy to Alpha Tango Foxtrot.

In the comedy Bloods (Sky1) she’s in charge of a team of paramedics, including 451 Papa Kilo with its new recruit Wendy (Jane Horrocks). Punch’s Jo is no less bossy than her character in Motherland but then she is very good at this. Wendy is no less oop-north daft than others played by Horrocks but she’s very good at them.

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Wendy is the replacement for the paramedic accidentally electrocuted by Maleek (a show-stealing turn from Samson Kayo). It’s a tough call who between Maleek and Wendy is the more gormless and, it seems, less suited to the job. Wendy for instance gives a crackhead money which he promises to spend on a harmonica, although she’s proved right about this.

Johnny Vegas is rescuing old buses for his glamping dreamJohnny Vegas is rescuing old buses for his glamping dream
Johnny Vegas is rescuing old buses for his glamping dream

Incompetence on the team should concern Jo but she’s too interested in trying to get off with Lawrence (Julian Barratt) to the extent she’ll find time racing to a multiple pile-up to apply her lipstick. Lawrence is still grieving the loss of his partner but Jo forgets this, self-obsession and stupidity also being among Punch’s strong suits.

Another duo, Darrell and Daryl, are equally idiotic, and I’m hoping that after so many shows portraying them racing to the scene of emergencies and performing brave deeds, real-life ambulancemen and women will find Bloods funny. They should, because this is a promising start.

As an idea for a series, Johnny Vegas: Carry on Glamping doesn’t sound a million miles from Youth Hostelling with Chris Eubank. But while the latter never got beyond the desperate, deranged mind of Alan Partridge, Channel 4 obviously liked the sound of the comedian scouring garages and scrapyards for classic old buses and renovating them.

Vegas’ heroic assistant Bev was presumably less keen, given that she’s heard it all before. Maybe not this wheeze but ones similar. What usually happens is that he quickly gets bored and moves on to something else, leaving her to deal with the angry calls.

Brothers Doomhnall and Brian Gleeson are O'Dumb and O'Dumber in Frank of IrelandBrothers Doomhnall and Brian Gleeson are O'Dumb and O'Dumber in Frank of Ireland
Brothers Doomhnall and Brian Gleeson are O'Dumb and O'Dumber in Frank of Ireland

Vegas reckons Bev treats him like “care in the community” but has to make a promise: “For the first time I’m going to do something which doesn’t involve your mobile number.” He summons family and friends to tell them of his grand plan and of course they cannot quite believe it. “This feels like an intervention,” he says, possibly not for the first time. But he’s adamant: “I’m going to be the Gandhi of glamping!”

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There are four parts to this so should we assume the shambolic funster sees his bespoke glamping site through to the end before Bev reaches the end of her tether? It doesn’t seem likely when Vegas purchases his first bus online at 2am in the morning for £5,500. Oh, and it’s parked up - decommissioned and unloved - in Malta.

But Vegas loves it. Possibly he loves buses more than people. The detail - it’s 70 years old - makes him dreamy-eyed and he declares: “This is a kick up the arse from my 19-year-old self at art school. I’m getting back in touch with things that bring me aesthetic joy.” I’m guessing this series is going to be chaotic, exasperating but fun - just like the man.

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There’s quite a lot of berkishness going on this week but the absolute kings of it can be found in Frank of Ireland (Channel 4). The eponymous Frank and best pal/human punchbag Doofus are the O’Dumb and O’Dumber of County Dublin, congenital fools who stumble from one squirm-inducing interlude to another.

Watching it you’ll often ask: “Did they just say that?” The show is fabulously filthy and sadly I can’t repeat the best lines. It began with a funeral where Frank, a singing sensation but only in his own head, was asked to perform. Offering his version of “Every Breath You Take” to an emphysema victim was the least of his problems.

Brothers Brian and Domhnall Gleeson have written this double-act for themselves. They’re the sons of illustrious Irish thesp Brendan Gleeson and Sharon Horgan executive-produces. Sarah Greene who you’ll remember as Connell’s mum in Normal People is Aine.

Aine is the ex-girlfriend of Frank and, sorry, I can’t tell you why they broke up, you’ll just have to find out for yourself. She quickly hooked up with Peter-Brian, a posh doctor into mixed martial arts. Frank called him Brian-Peter and confused MMA with MDMA - ecstasy. Hoping to win Aine back, he spied on the new beau in the hope of unmasking a cheat but soon got drawn into his world of archery and wine-tasting. I half-expected to see a homo-erotic homage to Oliver Reed and Alan Bates in Women in Love - naked wrestling in front of a roaring fire.

Frank lives his feckless life by classic movie scenes. There was plenty of scope for them this week when the local community centre staged an all-female version of Twelve Angry Men. Brian-Peter’s charm is starting to unravel and Aine is noticing. I’d like to say that Frank is simultaneously turning into the dashing prince but I can’t.

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