Psychoville. Mr Jelly (Reece Shearsmith)
Psychoville

Psychoville

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Two
  • 2009 - 2011
  • 14 episodes (2 series)

A dark comedy mystery starring The League Of Gentlemen's Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith. Also features Jason Tompkins, Dawn French, Daniel Kaluuya, Daisy Haggard, Imelda Staunton and Daniel Ings

Press clippings Page 6

Reece Shearsmith's Silent Singer, a newcomer to Psychoville, is genuinely terrifying. And all he did was make jerky movements with his upper body while standing still. There was something about those pigtails, though ...

From killer lines ("You made it, then?" Mr Jelly remarked to a fellow survivor of the fireball that seemingly engulfed the entire cast at the end of series one. "Yeah, got the train," came the perfect answer) to a killer on the loose, every second of this pitch-perfect dark comedy is a joy. Albeit a joy perhaps best watched while cowering behind the sofa.

Robert Epstein, The Independent, 8th May 2011

And now a blasphemous confession: Psychoville (BBC2) isn't for me. It's comedy horror for the Ocado demographic, as scary as finding your delivery man has broken the bottle of balsamic vinegar en route, a gross-out as entertaining as a commodified trick-or-treat soiree in the suburbs. A clown with Down's syndrome, anyone? Dawn French pasting mashed swede into a woman's paralysed mouth? An officious librarian haunted by a dancing spectre? Thanks, but no.

Psychoville warrants comparison with Gigglebiz, Justin Fletcher's sometimes scary sketch show. Think of Fletcher's truly menacing Dinah Lady or his crazed fitness fanatic Keith Fit. Genuinely terrifying - and with a punchline rate that Psychoville's mighty writers can only look on and despair. And that's on CBeebies. Mind you, I did like the way French got stabbed with a pencil. She'd been asking for that.

Stuart Jeffries, The Guardian, 6th May 2011

Psychoville, BBC Two, review

The trouble is that being unlike anything else on television always feels too transparently like Psychoville's main aim.

James Walton, The Telegraph, 6th May 2011

Finally: Psychoville is back! Actually, it's been so long since it was last on - and then it was only too brief - that I can't really remember where we left off. Biggins is still there. The dwarf - who last time he was here was on stage, I'm sure - has become the object of a love-spell. Mr Jelly's now doing pub gigs, Lomax is seeking vengeance for crimes long forgotten, and David and Maureen are still trying to kill people. This time, by feeding them food so unpalatable that death becomes the preferable option (Angel Delight with fish, anyone?) As before it's less laugh-out-loud, more try-not-to-vomit amusing. Which, of course, holds a certain charm.

Alice-Azania Jarvis, The Independent, 6th May 2011

Impressively, considering the first series ended with what appeared to be the fiery deaths of all of the main characters, Psychoville returns for a second run. Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have fun with the characters that made it, who are mourning those who did not; there are other survivors, however, who don't even make it to the end of this episode. As usual, it's a sharp mix of gruesome horror, black comedy and serial killer fandom.

Rebecca Nicholson, The Guardian, 5th May 2011

It would take more than a waistcoat full of explosives to kill off Psychoville's cast of grotesques.

Series two opens with a funeral for a clown, but as we say RIP to Mr Jolly - the children's entertainer-turned-suicide bomber - a new mystery arises concerning a missing locket belonging to the Ravenhill Mental Hospital's sadistic Nurse Kenchington.

Fans of Psychoville will know better than to expect this plotline to be solved in any conventional sense.

Instead, just gorge on the details as Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith carry on twisting the horror genre into unexpected shapes like so many balloon animals.

So we welcome back serial killer David Sowerbutts, angry clown Mr Jelly, Dawn French's bonkers midwife and toy collector Mr Lomax.

Imelda Staunton's secret agent returns too, chanelling the spirit of Judi Dench in the Bond movies and there's a new character to populate your nightmares: The Silent Singer.

Jane Simon, The Mirror, 5th May 2011

Make-up curb on Psychoville set

The two creators of wacky Psychoville are sick of hours spent in make-up, they admitted yesterday.

Lucy Connolly, The Sun, 5th May 2011

Series two of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton's comedy horror begins in typically dark fashion. The survivors of the explosion at Ravenhill Psychiatric Hospital reunite at the burial of one of their number, which ends up kicking off a cavalcade of new mysteries. Even better news is that, after appearing in the Halloween special, Imelda Staunton returns as shadowy investigator Grace Andrews - as Staunton proved as vindictive teacher Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter, there are few who do terrifying quite so splendidly.

Sharon Lougher, Metro, 5th May 2011

"No loose ends, remember, Kelvin," warns the sleek Imelda Staunton character in the opener to the horror-com's second series. It's a cheeky line from a show whose plotting has more loose ends than a fringed lampshade, and rather than trying to follow it, it's simpler to thrill to the loathsome sight gags and haunting characters lovingly assembled by Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. There's Mr Jelly the embittered clown; Joy, the deluded midwife with a doll for a child; blind toy collector Mr Lomax; and serial killer David Sowerbutts - with his charming mum. They all somehow survived the explosion at the end of series one, though not Mr Jelly's arch-rival Mr Jolly, whose funeral (attended by a parade of glum clowns) kicks off the episode. Psychoville's unsettling tone is unlike anything else on TV and as well as big laughs there are big, nasty shocks.

David Butcher, Radio Times, 5th May 2011

Just as with The League Of Gentlemen, Psychoville's best moments are always the lower level tragedies. No matter what they throw at you in terms of stabbings, explosions, horror film tropes, it's never the big moments that chill or disgust you, it's the small things - the moments when Imelda Staunton purses her lips - that send a shiver down your spine. What other show would have an angry librarian turn so horrific?

There's a strange pretension-free ambition that makes Psychoville so much fun to watch. There are really awful cheap gags mixed among moments that take weeks, if not years to set up. Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton mug it up, but they're allowed to get away with it because of the deadpan way the rest of the cast, such as the brilliant Tea Leaf, play around in their sick world. Really, really good.

TV Bite, 5th May 2011

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