Review: Mel and Sue’s new sitcom Hitmen is perfect casting – but the comedy misses the mark

The comedy duo (and former Bake Off presenters) play contract killers in Sky drama Hitmen

Hitmen main image

I had a soft spot for Mel and Sue long before they became synonymous with dough-based innuendos. So when I heard they were reuniting for a Sky One sitcom about a couple of hapless ‘hitwomen’, I wanted it to be brilliant.

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The premise is simple: Mel and Sue play best friends who have known each other for yonks (so far no acting required), but instead of making people laugh for a living they enable people to meet their maker. Carrying out the commands of their mysterious boss ‘Mr K’, Jamie and Fran kill people with all the efficiency and gusto of Austin Powers, making small talk with their victims while they wait.

The action really takes place between jobs as the pair sit in their van waiting for the phone to ring, chatting about their lives and trying to pass the time.

Don’t expect the glamour of Killing Eve – this is a down-to-earth assassin show that’s more Del and Rodders than 007 . And that’s its charm. I can’t imagine Vilanelle ordering an After Eight McFlurry at a McDonalds drive through, but it’s one of my favourite moments in episode one of Hitmen. Imagine if Bridget Jones decided she’d had enough of journalism and learned how to use a gun.

Most discussions in the opening episode revolve around Fran’s birthday party, or lack thereof. Nobody except Jamie wants to come and the only other person keen to celebrate has a sack over his head in the back of a van, waiting to be killed. Meanwhile, Fran (played by Sue) can’t quite get her head around how unpopular she is – a distracting thought when you’re trying to get on with murdering someone.

Despite the obviously macabre elements this is not an overly violent show, and Mel and Sue have taken great pains to emphasise that they didn’t want to glorify gun violence. In this they are successful. The idea is amusing and the casting is great – as well as excellent guest stars like Jason Watkins and Sian Clifford, it’s difficult to believe the show wasn’t written specifically for Mel and Sue, so perfect are they for the roles. The writers, Joe Parham and Joe Markham, simply wrote a script for a double act and were delighted when Mel and Sue said yes.

My only issue is that I wish it was funnier. Sure, it’s not un-funny. It’s an enjoyable half hour. But I wanted so much more. The jokes are often a bit predictable and the material doesn’t live up to the actors delivering it. You get the feeling you’d have more of a laugh just sitting in a room with Mel and Sue and a couple of cinzanos, rather than going to the bother of getting dressed up and filming a show. And that seems a real shame.

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Hitmen arrives on Sky One and NOW TV from 25th March 2020