Mindhorn | Julian Barratt sends up telly sleuths with the Isle of Man's not-so dashing answer to Bergerac

(Image credit: Steffan Hill)

It's truth time! 

Julian Barratt, co-creator of surreal comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh, has great fun sending up 1970s and 80s telly detectives with this engaging spoof.

He plays washed-up star Richard Thorncroft, once famous as dashing TV sleuth Mindhorn, the Isle of Man’s answer to Jersey’s Bergerac, with a dash of the Six Million Dollar Man courtesy of his bionic eye. Now, however, he lives in a Walthamstow bedsit and the only work he can get is advertising male corsets and orthopaedic socks.

Then he gets a call from the Manx police force to help them deal with a suspected killer who calls himself ‘The Kestrel’ (Russell Tovey) and will only deal with the fictional Mindhorn. Barratt’s Thorncroft, still a vain, pompous windbag despite his fall from stardom, thinning hair and swelling paunch, sees the occasion as the opportunity to re-launch his career…

Barratt and co-writer Simon Farnaby take delight in their self-obsessed hero’s irredeemable naffness, and the rest of the cast enter into the spirit of things, too. Essie Davis plays Thorncroft’s ex-girlfriend and on-screen totty, now married to his former stunt double (Farnaby). Steve Coogan is the Mindhorn supporting actor who has gallingly become incredibly successful. And Andrea Riseborough plays a local Manx cop, who quickly finds herself subject to Thorncroft’s unreconstructed chauvinism. Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow gamely play themselves.

True, the mystery plot is fairly ramshackle, but there is a steady stream of chuckles and the film’s silliness is infectious.

Certificate 15. Runtime 89 mins. Director Sean Foley

Mindhorn available on Digital Download, and on Blu-ray & DVD from Monday 4 September.


Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.