Following famously fatuous blockbuster Batman v Superman, the more tantalising proposition of Batman versus Attenborough becomes semi-reality as Ben Affleck hits the Norton sofa to promote action thriller The Accountant, while David Attenborough arrives to discuss keenly anticipated natural history sequel Planet Earth 2. Elsewhere, Claire Foy and Matt Smith reveal the truth behind playing the Queen and Prince Philip.Mark Gibbings-Jones, The Guardian, 4th November 2016
When Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton satirised media values in their Nineties sitcom Drop The Dead Donkey they produced a perceptive but gentle chiding of failing newsroom standards and most journalists loved it. They won't have found Hacks so funny.
The phone-hacking scandal is no media industry in-joke but an already much-publicised story of shameful events that the audience will have instantly recognised.
It was snappily written but it seems almost futile to try to exaggerate for comic effect the extreme methods that we know were actually employed at the News of the World. So when we saw Tabby, the pearl-wearing royal correspondent for the Sunday Comet, tasked with hacking the phone calls of the "Ginger Prince" we well knew the dapper Clive Goodman - her real life equivalent at the News of the World - was up to so much more.
Channel 4 ran the inevitable disclaimer: "The characters and events in this film are entirely fictitious." That may not have satisfied ex-staffers at the News of the World. Former showbiz editor Rav Singh and former investigations editor Mazher "The Fake Sheikh" Mahmood (neither of whom have been accused of criminal activity) can't have been impressed at the portrayal of the Sunday Comet's most scurrilous reporter Rav Musharraf (Kayvan Novak), who is shown trying to blag documents in the voices of Desmond Tutu, Sean Connery and Prince Philip ("just fax me the bleeding bank statement you imbecile").
Novak's was one of many slick performances. Claire Foy was scary as a ruthless editor with some of the ambitious traits of Rebekah Brooks. Michael Kitchen deftly played Stanhope Feast, a media baron with an Australian accent, a fruity vocabulary and a feisty young Oriental wife with a talent for close combat, Ho Chi Mao Feast (Eleanor Matsuura).
Hackgate has been such a gripping and multi-dimensional story that the hour-long drama rattled along at the pace of a good Sunday tabloid. And with the Leveson inquiry still unfolding, much of the material felt hot off the press. Scotland Yard should have squirmed at Russ Abbot's portrayal of a top cop and politicians were expertly lampooned for their obsequiousness towards the media.
But the Channel 4 audience, amused as it might have been by this all-too-real tale of tabloid excess, will have been left with little sense of the value of journalism. The role of other newspapers in exposing hacking was skipped over, leaving Ray (Phil Davis), a veteran reporter with an aversion to the dark arts, to represent Fleet Street's conscience.
Rupert Murdoch's influence on British media culture was mercilessly satirised. Hacks ended with an abandoned Stanhope Feast, hopping mad on his skyscraper helipad as the pages of his dead newspaper blew away in the wind. But the real life mogul is still worth more than $7bn and his News Corp empire generates $33bn a year in revenues, so that part at least was indeed entirely fictitious.Ian Burrell, The Independent, 2nd January 2012
The phone-hacking comedy Hacks might have been the first entry in a new genre: the reverse satire.
Written and directed by Guy Jenkin, the co-creator of Drop the Dead Donkey and Outnumbered, it took a swipe at a real-life farce that has aroused intense public ire - the parade of newspaper executives explaining that they never asked where the stories on their front pages came from - and turned culpability into one big joke.
Its characters included an Antipodean media magnate (Stanhope Feast, played by Michael Kitchen) with a much younger wife called Ho Chi Mao (Eleanor Matsuura), plus a tabloid editor, Kate Loy (Claire Foy), who was aware of the nefarious means used to extract celebrity pay dirt, and oblivious to its human cost and cruelty.
Except she wasn't oblivious - the voices of phone-hacking victims were keeping her awake at night - and Foy, promising actor though she is, has something about her that suggests warmth and vulnerability.
This put Hacks in the indelicate position of making its targets sympathetic. Kitchen's character even got all the best lines. Now where's the fun in that?Chris Harvey, The Telegraph, 1st January 2012
"This is the story of a British tabloid newspaper," says the on-screen message at the start of Hacks. "Obviously everything in it is made up." Then, for the next hour, Guy Jenkin's satirical look at you know which story chronicles recent events remarkably accurately. Not the boring bits - the most outrageous, and the most fun. It is fun. And very, very silly.
Claire Foy is properly good as the pushy moral vacuum of an editor. Kayvan Novak - Fonejacker turned phone hacker - is hilarious as an investigative reporter who specialises in the art of disguise and whose resemblance to a real investigative reporter who specialises in the art of disguise is obviously purely coincidental. Likewise Alexander Armstrong as "David Bullingdon", the posh twat who somehow gets to run the country. (From now on we must all refer to the PM as David Bullingdon, OK? And that includes you, Mr Miliband.)
But Guy Jenkin's master stroke is to give Wendy De ... sorry, "Ho Chi Mao Feast", the position at the heart of the story she clearly merits. Her brutal attack on the protester at the hearing - during which she repeatedly and ferociously bashes his head with her high heel until the blood spatters the select committee - is a joy.Sam Wollaston, The Guardian, 1st January 2012
It didn't take long for the first phone hacking comedy to make it to our screens. This hour-long swipe at the tabloid scandal, written by Guy Jenkin of Drop the Dead Donkey fame, is set at The Daily Comet, where staff land stories by any means necessary. Phone hacking, entrapment, blagging... the hacks here do it all. Press baron Stanhope Feast (Michael Kitchen, playing a gruff Antipodean magnate with a young Asian wife) demands some big exclusives from his flame-haired editor Kate Loy (Claire Foy). But her moral compass went awry some time ago and it's about to cause a major scandal. The salty script is peppered with political references, while a colourful cast includes Nigel Planer and Celia Imrie.Michael Hogan, The Telegraph, 29th December 2011
Nearly always it's the quiet ones that surprise you with their anger. Terry Pratchett's delightful series of surreal Discworld novels have long bewitched readers. Pratchett novels have always acted as gentle satires of our world, but Going Postal, the latest of his novels to be filmed by Sky was, by Pratchett's standards at least, monumentally angry.
Porcine bankers, the celebration of corporations, the moral vacuity of the concept of victimless crime and, er, the incorrect use of apostrophes, were all fed into the novel that was the source for this Sky adaptation. The anger was mollified for family viewing - but only slightly.
David Suchet, almost unrecognisable as a villain who resembled an ageing, heavy metal star, played Reacher Gilt - the rapacious owner of Clacks, a network of semaphore towers which are Discworld's take on the internet.
This was a man who had taken advantage of a banking crisis to move in and steal Clacks from its inventor. Gilt was enraged when the patrician Lord Vetinari (Charles Dance) pardoned conman Moist von Lipwig (Richard Coyle) on the understanding he revive the Discworld's postal service to provide some competition to Clacks.
Part of the glory of this fabulous chunk of entertainment was that Sky eschewed CGI in favour of lavish sets, constructed with lashings of sparkling invention. Going Postal looked amazing. Luckily, everything else about the production was dazzling too.
Coyle was roguish but sympathetic, and Andrew Sachs, as his assistant, bumbled along like a cross between his Fawlty Towers duffer Manuel and the original grandfather from Only Fools And Horses. Claire Foy, as Adora Dearhart, smouldered convincingly.Paul Connolly, Daily Mail, 3rd June 2010
With its teatime scheduling and raft of fabulously named characters, you could have been forgiven for supposing Going Postal was intended as a family-friendly fairy tale. But there was a delicous darkness about this handsomely mounted adaptation of the 33rd novel in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series that definitely needed a parental advisory sticker.
Corrupt bankers, the mindless adulation of progress, the absurdity of 'victimless crime'; this was Pratchett aiming two barrels at a galaxy of pet hates - including, delightfully, missing apostrophes - all gathered around the yarn of conman Moist von Lipwig and the accursed Ankh-Morpork post office. And he was well served with a richly rendered visualisation of Discworld, from avalanches of unsent letters to a menagerie of curious characters, that made for a Delicatessen-style visual feast.
And you could have a lot of fun wondering where Dickens and Tolkien ended and Pratchett began, such was the weight of literary influence. But it went deeper than that. Drawing on first-class performances - Richard Coyle excellent as a believably conflicted von Lipwig; Claire Foy a sneering delight as Adora Deerheart, the perfect anti-love interest for the perfect anti-hero - Going Postal sent out a heartfelt plea to celebrate the individual over the corporate, the human over the machine. On that score Going Postal was a special delivery.Keith Watson, Metro, 1st June 2010