Mandy, BBC2, review: Diane Morgan’s comedy is knife-sharp, gleefully silly and a bit tired

Diane Morgan’s hapless, Doberman pinscher-loving antiheroine Mandy made her second-series return in predictable fashion. The first episode of the opening double bill – which will be followed by four more 15-minute instalments – found her back at the job centre, after an unfortunate stint at a frozen fish factory.

Inevitably, the gig had ended in calamity, so she was sent to work instead at stately home Brampton Hall, leading guided tours in character as a 19th-century scullery maid. (“I have to light the fire at 5:30 every morning to make sure it’s warm for my master”). 

Morgan has long proved herself queen of deadpan absurdity with her turns as TV nincompoop Philomena Cunk and as Motherland’s heroically unruffled Liz – and Mandy is as groan-inducingly daft as ever – but episode two was the highlight of the night, as Mandy accidentally starred in a Who Do You Think You Are? rip-off, after being mistaken for the long-lost cousin of Dragons’ Den investor Deborah Meaden (who did a wonderfully game job of playing herself).

This comedy is at its sharpest not when it is revelling in the weird – which it does a lot (the first episode ended in a satanic ritual) – but in its more understated scenes when Mandy is caught doing something quietly outrageous.

Few moments were funnier, for instance, than when her arm slowly inched into shot as she sheepishly rooted around for magazines from which to source photographs of “family members”.

The format will inevitably get tired at some point, but when it does I hope it won’t be the last we see of Mandy. With Morgan’s gleefully silly performances and knife-sharp writing, I’m curious to see how Mandy would develop if she was given longer than 15 minutes to wreak havoc.

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