Everything you need to know about Mindhorn
Mindhorn is a comedy film about a (fictional) has-been British TV actor Richard Thorncroft, who shot to fame in the late 1980s playing the titular and charismatic lead role in the Isle of Man-set sleuth show Mindhorn. Boasting a robotic eye, Mindhorn can literally “see the truth”.
However, 25 years on, he’s balding, a tad overweight and out of work. After a delusional criminal obsessed with the show starts terrorising the Isle and demands to talk only to “Mindhorn”, the police enlist Thorncroft to work with them, and he senses a chance to get his acting career back on track.
Unlike most British comedy films,
Mindhorn is not a spin-off
In recent years, the British comedy film market has been dominated by popular TV characters and brands. The likes of The Inbetweeners, Alan Partridge, David Brent, Absolutely Fabulous and Dad’s Army have all made the jump to the silver screen - with some achieving more belly-laughs than others. The high-concept premise of Mindhorn lovingly pastiches UK sleuthing shows of old, from Bergerac to Midsomer Murders, and is that rare thing – an original idea.
The film boasts an all-star cast of British comedic stars
Julian Barratt is Richard Thorncroft, the pompous and arrogant protagonist who has fallen on hard times after previous success as the film’s titular TV detective. Barratt rose to prominence as Howard Moon in hit BBC Three show The Mighty Boosh alongside Noel Fielding, and has also starred in cult Channel 4 sitcoms Nathan Barley and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
Barratt co-wrote the film alongside fellow Boosh star Simon Farnaby, who plays Mindhorn’s stuntman Clive Parnevik. Farnaby has appeared in a number of TV comedies over the years, including The Lenny Henry Show, Jam & Jerusalem and Vic and Bob’s House of Fools.
In the film, Thorncroft’s former co-star Peter Easterman performs in a long-running spin-off show which has far eclipsed the success of Mindhorn. Easterman is played by British comedy icon Steve Coogan of Alan Partridge fame. As well as being famous for playing the Norwich-based radio presenter, Coogan has starred in sitcoms like The Trip and Saxondale, as well as the Oscar-nominated Philomena and biopic 24 Hour Party People, about founder of Factory Records Tony Wilson. Coogan also runs the production company Baby Cow, which is responsible for some of the best UK sitcoms of recent years, including Gavin and Stacey and Nighty Night.
Other stars include Russell Tovey, Angela Riseborough and Harriet Walter. Meanwhile, British acting royalty Simon Callow and Kenneth Branagh make cameo appearances as themselves.
The film is a co-production between BBC Films and StudioCanal
BBC Films developed Mindhorn, which was co-financed by the Isle of Man, Pinewood Pictures, the BFI Film Fund and StudioCanal. Principal photography commenced on 27 July 2015, and the film received its first screening at the 2016 BFI London Film Festival. Ahead of its UK release, it has been warmly praised by critics. Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker revealed that he did “proper genuine out-loud laughs from the gut”.