Timewasters is a new comedy on ITV2 that has really been catching my attention recently, written by Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Barunka O’Shaughnessy. The premise is very clever: a struggling South London jazz quartet is transported back to 1926; the peak of the Jazz Age.
‘So this is the time machine?’
‘He says yeah.’
‘It’s not just a piss filled lift in a run-down block of flats?’
The writing and cast are both excellent, featuring some of the best comic talent around at the moment, and it really has got off to a swing – dreadful pun.
Daniel Lawrence Taylor (Uncle and Cockroaches) co-writes and stars as Nick – lead trumpet and a tad, shall we say, sensitive and highly strung – alongside Adelayo Adedayo (who was brilliant in Some Girls) as his sister Lauren – drums and laid back sanity. With them are Kadiff Kirwarn (Crims, another outstanding comedy with Ellis James that puts the remake of Porridge to shame) as Jason – sax and dim-witted womaniser – and Samson Kayo as Horace, the happy-go-lucky vocalist who approaches the Roaring Twenties like an innocent child in a sweet shop.
The first three episodes have really had me roaring (another terrible pun) with laughter. There is a mystery of who Homeless Pete really is: ‘Who would have thought a guy who shits in bins is a timelord.’ How are the cast going to get home - something that Nick is focused on more than the others. Are they going to mess up the future? Is Curtis going to catch Jason?
All of the cast are great, but I particularly like Kayo as Horace – the bicycle scene at the start of episode two literally had me crying – and there have been some great cameos so far from Nigel Planer, Kevin Eldon, and Nigel Havers. Of course there are a lot of gags about race and identity with a black band in twenties London - ‘Anytime before the mid 80s isn’t good for black people.’ - but also comments about class and society in general that gives it a hard satirical edge. It is, as I said at the start, clever writing. Satire is no good unless it makes you laugh while holding up a mirror, and this keeps the gags coming. The take off of the vacuous, irritating, Bright Young Things is cringingly genius: a flapper Made in Chelsea on cocaine.
ITV2 have produced some genuinely different comedies in the last few years (Plebs springs to mind) that have rightly been winning awards. If the first half of Timewasters is anything to go by, this is going to be a big hit for them. I already want another series to be commissioned, and a Christmas special.
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