“I can hear you Clem Fandango!”
Fans of Toast of London didn’t have to wait long before the best-known catchphrase from last year’s Channel 4 sleeper comedy were heard booming across the Bafta auditorium at Tuesday night’s screening.
Yes, the Matt Berry comedy is back for a second helping and Berry’s Toast remains as bombastic and unscrupulous as ever as he prowls around London’s theatreland as if it is still the 1970s – or at least an era when agents sit in musty wood-panelled offices and refer to their clients’ “notices”.
Of course Shazad Latif’s Clem Fandango, the ridiculously-attired voice-over producer, is back in the new series, as are Toast’s hysterical agent Jane Plough (Doon Mackichan) and his idle, smoothie-chops flatmate Ed Howzer-Black (Cold Feet’s Robert Bathurst).
But there will also be a host of Toast-like new names in the new six part series, once again co-written by Berry himself and Father Ted scriptwriter Arthur Mathews. The trick appears to be to choose a plausible-enough first name and attach an utterly ridiculous surname, as we saw with the likes of Susan Random in the first run. Tonight we got to meet legendary prostitute and blow footballer Wendy Nook.
In the episode, Match Fit (which may or may not be the one opening the new series, C4 have yet to decide) we find Toast desperate to win the Celebrities and Prostitutes Blow football tournament. Or at least to outdo his arch rival Ray Purchase, the medallion-wearing turn brilliantly played by Harry Peacock who may be an even bigger idiot than Toast himself and who happens to have committed the terrible crime of being married to Toast’s regular squeeze (Tracy Ann Oberman’s Mrs P).
There is a particularly funny scene when Toast and Purchase go head-to-head with loudhailers, each standing on the open top of a London tourist bus bellowing at each other. And the blow football tournament builds up to a typically extreme climax.
Because that is the key to Toast with it’s broad, brash comedy, hilarious stunts and set pieces. It’s a conventionally structured sitcom replete with dollops of off-kilter surreality and very lame puns – and of course it is an acquired taste. But I suspect that fans will not be disappointed.
It may be me, but this run looks like it could be even filthier than the first, a fact which may not do much to secure a better scheduling slot. This was good comedy, rather wasted at 10.40pm on Sundays last time round (not surprisingly it struggled to get many near 400,000 viewers on the overnights).
Channel 4 have yet to decide where it’s going – though rumour has it that it may actually be getting the Friday night berth its production team want, sometime at the end of October. Which of course would have Toast shouting his other catchphrase – “yes!” – over and over again…
Toast series is due to return to Channel 4 in October