The Cleaner

When crime scene cleaner Greg Davies meets killer widow Helena Bonham Carter, mayhem ensues.

When I first heard of new Greg Davies comedy series The Cleaner, I couldn’t help but recall Shaun Micallef’s Mr. & Mrs. Murder.

After all, a comedy series about crime scene cleaning isn’t exactly commonplace.

Turns out, Davies’ series is based on a German comedy Der Tatortreiniger, which premiered in 2011 (two years before Mr. & Mrs. Murder hit screens).

Despite the common occupation, the two shows have quite a bit of difference. For starters, Mr. & Mrs. Murder saw married couple Nicola and Charlie Buchanan (Kat Stewart & Micallef) solving the crimes they were attending.

Greg Davies as Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead works solo, and his encounters are far more philosophical. He’s not here to solve the crime. He really just wants to be left alone to do a good job, but life -or rather- someone associated to the victim, invariably gets in the way.

This provides a very neat vehicle for guest roles, all of which adds up to a delightful diversion.

In episode one Wicky arrives to a blood-spattered kitchen where a husband was stabbed 38 times by his wife.

“Why? To piss me off? You only need 5 stabs. Anything else is showboating,” Wicky insists.

“I’m a cleaner, I’m not Jesus.”

This kind of mess means he also won’t get to his favourite Curry Night at the local pub.

First to interrupt is a nosy neighbour, who brings over a pie as subterfuge. It doesn’t go well.

But wait until ‘The Widow’ (as this episode is titled) shows up in the form of Helena Bonham Carter.

Just why she killed her hubby isn’t initially clear, but when she pulls a gun on Wicky, it’s pretty clear he won’t be making it to Curry Night anytime soon.

The joy of The Cleaner is in watching Davies and his guest star crackle along with all kinds of smart dialogue, puns and semantics. The towering Davies looms large over his diminutive guest star, yet she holds all the power in this kooky scenario. Where else would you catch Helena Bonham Carter on the toilet doing number 2s (sorry!)?

“What are you under the impression that women don’t” she quips.

There’s even a musical dream sequence… why not?

Episode two is a new crime scene, this time when pompous author Terence Redford (David Mitchell), has an expired grandmother in his living room.

But he’s currently suffering from writers’ block and doesn’t care for Wicky’s noisy cleaning equipment while he is trying to create.

That leads to some blazing rows between the two men, both trying to do their job, yet somehow needing each other to do so.

Mitchell is suitably delicious as the short-tempered, eloquent writer spitting out his syllables and consonants with razor-sharp precision. There’s definitely a love of language in this script.

Davies is delightful as the harangued, perfectionist crime scene cleaner who gives as good as he gets, and always taking great pride in his work.

Further guests across two seasons will include Stephanie Cole, Harriet Walter, Simon Callow, Zoë Wannamaker and more.

Gloves on, zip up, for some very messy fun.

The Cleaner double episode 8:30pm Tuesday on ABC Entertains.

7 Responses

  1. Husband and I are massive Greg Davies fans, have watched every Taskmaster, and his WILTY and Buzzcocks stuff is fantastic, but we just couldn’t get into this. After 2 eps it just felt hammy and forced. Won’t stop us from loving him though😁

  2. My thought exactly when I saw this story’s thumbnail! I enjoyed Mr & Mrs Murder, it was quirky and offbeat, but it seemed to flow. Sadly, I was probably one of the only few who did watch, if I recall correctly during Ten’s gloomy period.

  3. Didn’t find it funny at all-just nonsensically silly, a waste of 2 talented performers and for a crime scene cleaner show. one that featured very fake blood!

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