Do you remember Mindhorn?
The popular Eighties and Nineties action TV series featured Richard Thorncroft as Isle of Man detective Bruce P. Mindhorn, a man whose left eye had been replaced by a lie detector, enabling him to literally “see the truth”.
Of course, you don’t. The show never existed.
The whole crazy Bergerac/Six Million Dollar Man concept comes courtesy of Julian Barratt, who here plays actor Thorncroft, and co-writer Simon Farnaby (Horrible History/Bunny and the Bull), who doubles up here as Thorncroft’s onetime stuntman Clive. Now, 25 years after his heyday, Thorncroft is an ageing, balding egomaniac has been, reduced to producing adverts for girdles. That’s until the police get in touch. A murderer known only as ‘the Kestrel’ is on the loose on the Isle of Man and is so deranged that he thinks his Eighties childhood hero is a real person. He refuses to talk to anyone else. Time, then, for Mindhorn to get back in action.
It’s a great idea and despite a few patchy elements, is brilliantly funny. Much of the entertainment, of course, comes from seeing clips of the convincingly awful looking Mindhorn TV series, as well as the contrast between Thorncroft’s cheesy but glamorous younger life and his somewhat pathetic existence today. It’s a great role for the underrated Barratt, too young to have been a grownup Eighties TV star in reality and best known for being Noel Fielding’s other half in The Mighty Boosh. Steve Coogan is also great in the role of Peter Eastman, a minor actor in Mindhorn who has since enjoyed greater success than Thorncroft ever achieved, in his long running spin-off show, Windjammer.
Part Alan Partridge (has-been star), part Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace (fictional Eighties TV show), part Toast of London (egomaniac actor), Mindhorn is a hoot. And don’t be surprised if you come out humming the words to Thorncroft’s pop hit, ‘Can’t Handcuff The Wind’ either. It’s surprisingly catchy.
Overall Verdict: Mindhorn: even the name is funny.
Reviewer: Chris Hallam