The Cleaner

Rating 7.1
Streamer BBC iPlayer
Seasons 1
Episodes 6 x 25 mins

When you think of Helena Bonham Carter, the image of her sitting on the loo holding a gun to her six-foot eight hostage, Greg Davies, probably isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. And before you ask – yes, it unfortunately was a number two. Dripping in sarcasm and fake blood, Davies’ brand-new comedy will have you cringing and cackling in equal measure, which we think is a good thing?

+ If you can’t get enough of this gentle giant, check Greg Davies out in Taskmaster.

With a premise and snappy format based on the German comedy series Der Tartortreiniger, The Cleaner follows Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies) as he moves from crime scene to crime scene, cleaning up unbelievable messes and meeting some even more unbelievable characters along the way.

The Independent’s Sean O’Grady points to the show’s “intriguing form”, arguing that “these self-contained comedy dramas are all cleverly done”, and considering the concise and restricted nature of the show’s format and premise, we think that Davies does a good job at achieving a funny, and at times even heartfelt series. And The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson would agree, describing it as “a film in miniature”, that “does a lot with minimal cast”, balancing “slapstick moments…with pathos-laden observations about ambition and freedom”. 

It runs the risk of being far-fetched and gimmicky, but this is evaded with a breakthrough performance from Davies, who has, as Benji Wilson describes in The Telegraph a “stand-up’s instinct for a one-liner and the ability to switch from silly to serious in a single phrase”. This undulation widens the show’s scope and provides viewers with a watch which is as puerile as it can be profound. Beneath the sometimes overly juvenile humour (Bonham Carter’s toilet scene as prime example), there is, as Wilson points out “a main character we’re rooting for”, which sometimes is all you need. 

It’s short, it’s sweet, and at times it’s shocking. We don’t see Bafta’s in The Cleaner’s future, but a barrel of laughs? Tick.

+ For more fantastic (and free) TV, take a look at our best of BBC iPlayer list.

First shown September 2021.

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