British Comedy Guide

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HR. Image shows from L to R: Peter (Jonathan Pryce), Sam (Nicholas Le Prevost). Copyright: BBC
HR

HR

  • Radio sitcom / comedy drama
  • BBC Radio 4
  • 2009 - 2014
  • 30 episodes (5 series)

Comedy by Nigel Williams about a retired odd-couple. Stars Jonathan Pryce and Nicholas le Prevost. Stars Nicholas Le Prevost, Jonathan Pryce, Kate Fahy and David Haig.

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Press clippings

We are stuck with half-hearted bilge such as Radio 4's HR in which two well-known figures of the screen and stage, Jonathan Pryce and Nicholas Le Provost, flounder on a sea of scripted mediocrity like student performers at the Fringe.

HR used to be about an idle employee and his equally feckless human resources officer facing an appraisal from the jobsworths upstairs. I heard it briefly in this early incarnation and, even then, it reeked of actors killing time between jobs. I missed the middle series but now, at the start of the third, the original set-up seems to have been abandoned, presumably because the barrel of office-related gags has been well and truly scraped.

Now the same two colleagues appear to be retired and living together in a suburban semi (I'm still none the wiser as to whether they're in a relationship) though the title of the show, which points to an office setting, has curiously been retained. Nobody seems to care about this.

The plot, such as it was, concerned a lottery win, with Sam (Le Provost) refusing to tell Peter (Pryce) how much they had won lest it puncture their happiness and corrupt their souls. A man from the lottery (Tim McInnerny) appeared in the hope of filming the pair popping champagne corks and discussing their holiday plans but Sam wasn't playing ball. Thus, the rest of the episode was spent with Peter and the lottery man both trying to get their way. In between contrived setpieces you could just make out Pryce muttering "I have Tony Awards. I was in James bloody Bond" while Le Provost fired off furious letters to his agent. Someone put them out of their misery.

Fiona Sturges, The Independent, 28th February 2013

Anyone who has ever worked in a large organisation knows the routine. It's time for the annual appraisal: dig out every scrap of evidence of praise and hope for a positive performance review. But the signs are grim if you're called to the human resources department for "a little chat" ahead of your appraisal. This two-hander by The Wimbledon Poisoner author Nigel Williams sees a middle-aged, middle-management waste-of-space paddling in potential disaster. Jonathan Pryce is Peter, the tired-of-life-and-exhausted-by-work employee. Unfortunately for him, the telephone conversation in which he berates a supplier with every offensive turn of phrase imaginable has been recorded by his company "for training purposes". Nicholas Le Prevost plays his equally run-down halfcomatose HR manager, Sam, who must try and work out "a way forward" as personnel people say. The performances are first-class, but I could not help being reminded of Reginald Perrin's chats with his depressed HR chief.

Jane Anderson, Radio Times, 13th February 2009

New comedy by Nigel Williams, starring Jonathan Pryce and Nicholas Le Prevost, about an idle employee and his equally useless Human Resources officer. When they realise they're both up for the chop they embark on adventures which will occupy this space for the next six weeks. With a subject like HR, bane of the politically incorrect, and a cast like this, you can't really go wrong. Unless the script is clogged, self-conscious and leaves no room for the listener to enter the intense verbosity of the scene. As, alas, is the case today.

Gillian Reynolds, The Telegraph, 13th February 2009

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