The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff Review: Bleaker Still..

THE BLEAK OLD SHOP OF STUFF: Monday 20th February, BBC2, 8.30pm

We’ve seen our fair share of rubbish television in the OTB office (we often use ‘Outcasts’ as a swear-word) but it’s quite rare for a new programme to actually disappoint us.

Admittedly The Bleak Old Shop of stuff isn’t new, it was given a three-part miniseries after debuting at Christmas, but we still feel like it’s let us down a bit. With a great cast and a wealth of rich Dickensian content to lampoon, this could have been an excellent comedy but the script is still thinner than a bowl of workhouse gruel. We just about gave it the benefit of the doubt last December, but in the depths of February and with no days off on the horizon, we were in a less forgiving mood.

The cold hard truth is that this new stuff from Mark Evans is probably poorer than what came before and without naturally funny individuals like Stephen Fry, David Mitchell and Johnny Vegas to keep its head above the water, Bleak Shop flounders. The ideas are there, but every joke simply feels terribly under-cooked, unimaginative and blunt. You’re always expecting more than you end up getting. The script sounds worryingly like a first draft and you’d almost expect it to have ‘improve this’ and ‘needs work’ scribbled in the margins.

We rejoin the action with Jedrington Secret-Past (Robert Webb) and his wife Conceptiva (Katherine Parkinson) happily running their shop of curiosities when a wealthy villain (Tim McInnery) turns up to screw them over. So basically the same plot as last time. Reducing its run-time from an hour to 30 minutes is an improvement, yet some may suggest that commissioners should have gone one step further and axed it..