Murder in Successville is an odd one. Its own creators struggled to describe it when RadioTimes.com was given a sneak-peek, as it’s a mishmash of other shows: a structured reality comedy cop drama impressions contest. Let me try to explain…
It’s set in a fictional town called Successville, with 360-degree sets built for the cast. Each episode was filmed in 24 hours. DI Sleet, played by comedian Tom Davis, is investigating. He’s got crimes to solve in a town where Mary Berry runs a “Soggy Bottoms” strip club and Simon Cowell is the mayor.
Impressionists take on most of the familiar names around town. Liam Hourican, who plays the Chief Inspector like he’s Gordon Ramsay, deserves a Bafta at the very least.
But there are also real familiar faces who take it in turns to play DI Sleet’s assistant: presenter Dermot O’Leary, Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden, DJ Greg James and former Pussycat Doll Kimberley Wyatt. First up is Made In Chelsea’s Jamie Laing. He has no idea what he’s getting himself into. The celebrities’ instructions are simple: do as you’re told.
The aim of the game
Well, that, and figure out the case. From spotting the serial killer to seeking out the mob boss, you can play along at home and see if you can suss it out better than the celebrities.
According to the producers, Dermot O’Leary was by far the most competitive, with Greg James chomping at his heels. Tom Davis joked that if the Dragons’ Den gig hadn’t worked out, Meaden would also have been an “amazing” police officer.
The joke is always on Sleet, but the celebrities are put through their paces. It has – as Davis says – that Saturday Night Live feeling of enjoying watching celebrities out of their comfort zone: “That feeling of well done for doing that.”
Laing, for example, is made to snog his own hand when Sleet orders him to tell all about his recent nights out. O’Leary has to smash up a sweet shop and Wyatt gets in a pickle trying to move golf clubs without touching the bag.
The best bit is that the celebrities regularly struggle to stay in character, but the cameras don’t stop rolling.
So there really is a lot of laughing:
The producers revealed that Jamie Laing got so carried away, he basically considered everyone around him a suspect. So even when he was dropped off in the wrong place to start filming, and someone was guiding him towards the set, he thought filming had already kicked off and started asking them questions about the case.
You’ll marvel at how Davis manages to stay in character, while having a good old belly laugh at famous faces being made to do embarrassing things. It shouldn’t work but it does.