In the spirit of W1A, I’m calling an Emergency Damage Limitation Meeting because this brilliant series is (probably) leaving us forever tonight and so too, therefore, is Will Humphries.
The bumbling mess of a human that is Will – played by Hugh Skinner – is the single greatest thing to have ever happened to W1A.
Will first apologised his way into BBC Broadcasting House as a hapless intern in series one. The Beeb sort of forgot to tell him his internship was over, and he kept on turning up every day despite his entry card ceasing to work (a big hint that it was time to leave the building).
Eventually, and rather accidentally, Will became an assistant to Hugh Bonneville’s Head of Values Ian Fletcher.
During both his stints as intern and PA, Will spends most of his time gormlessly wandering around Broadcasting House trying to figure out his purpose in life, and is occasionally given menial tasks by his various superiors – when they remember that he exists.
Will is an endless source of amusement. His face alone deserves a Bafta for best comedy performance. It is wonderfully expressive and I can only imagine the eyebrow cramp Skinner must endure after a day of filming.
Appearances aside, Will’s dialogue is spot on. Most of his lines are a variation on “Yeah, no worries, yeah, cool. Say again?” which is a pretty accurate parody of millennial vernacular by series writer John Morton. We all know someone exactly like Will – or, at least, we see a bit of ourselves reflected in him.
More impressive still, Will doesn’t need the big one-liners to get a laugh: a simple shot of him whispering “woah” to himself while watching Planet Earth is enough.
There are a few other W1A characters who come close to Will’s comic greatness: jargon-spewing PR Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) has some absurd lines (personal favourite: “OK guys, if we don’t whack this raccoon first time we’re looking at a total crapfest. No question”).
Overall, W1A has been a hilarious, sometimes excruciatingly realistic mockumentary, and I will miss it dearly. Recent plotlines such as the ridicule of BBC subtitling – lest we forget “Dame Baggie Smith” – and the poaching of BBC employees by competitors like Netflix, have shown W1A to be more on the pulse than ever.
That said, the quick-fire “yes actually yes” and “the fact is” scripting for Sarah Parish’s Anna Rampton and Nina Sosanya’s Lucy Freeman has begun to push the bounds of plausibility.
Will – or “lovely Will”, as David Wilkes would say – deserved more airtime. He has been the undeniable hero of the last series, as tonight’s finale will show. I propose a spin-off: The Trials and Tribulations of Will Humphries.