Bryony Hannah


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Sharon Horgan returns to the always slightly dodgy world of the BBC Three sitcom with this new series about a woman wrongly sent to prison for murdering her boss.

In Dead Boss, innocent convict Helen Stephens is trying her best to overturn her conviction, which is not easy, as seemingly everyone around her is keen on her staying banged up. Her unhinged, arsonist cellmate Christine (Bryony Hannah) doesn't want her new friend to leave her; Governor Margaret (Jennifer Saunders) can't be bothered with the paperwork; the prison's reclusive "boss" Top Dog (Lizzie Roper) once was Stephens' bullied substitute teacher whose taunts leader her to murder her own husband; and former co-worker Henry (Edward Hogg) may seem keen on getting Stephens out, but he is a obsessive stalker who wants her to relay only on him.

The show began with a double-bill, which seemed like a good move, given that the second was clearly the stronger of the two. Both had their moments, but the first seemed to be concerned with setting up the situation more than the actual comedy - which is to be expected, really. The second episode, in which the prison runs a quiz where the top prize was five years off winner's sentence, had the better plot and, on the whole, was lots of fun.

I know some critics have been likened it, unfavourably, to Porridge, which was inevitable I suppose. However, both shows have major differences in terms of content, casting, and studio audiences (Porridge had one). It might even be better to think of Dead Boss as a comedy drama rather than a straight sitcom. Oh, and stop comparing the two.

Then again everyone else will probably be saying the same thing: "Why did they cancel Pulling?"

Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 18th June 2012

The premise of new BBC3 murder-mystery sitcom Dead Boss, co-written by and starring Sharon Horgan, is that Helen Stephens (Horgan) has been wrongly convicted of murdering her employer, and sentenced to 12 years in prison. Further conspiring against her are a useless solicitor, her venal sister, a sinister prison governor (Jennifer Saunders, left) and a script that displayed recidivist tendencies to criminal one-liners. Perhaps the series will settle, and the actors take a cue from Bryony Hannah's quirky turn as Helen's pyromaniac cellmate.

Mike Higgins, The Independent, 17th June 2012