Spencer Jones may not be a name you recognise – although you may remember his turn as a Ricky Gervais-a-like in Upstart Crow – but he’s given a much-deserved platform with The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk, a series that plays out like a concentrated burst of unbridled creativity.
The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk gives us exactly that, as we’re dunked head-first into the strange worldview of his childlike man. He wakes up, has breakfast, brushes his teeth, but even such simple tasks are sabotaged repeatedly by his brain’s absurdist flights of fancy; directed by the inventive Martin Stirling, every situation is a chance to showcase a silly prop or break into an impromptu musical number.
It’s a breathtakingly silly world that feels closer to the flat-out nonsense of a kids’ programme than an adult sitcom – you half expect Bodger or Badger to walk into a scene at any minute. The relentless slew of jokes, both visual and verbal, even extends to the supporting characters, with neighbour Johnny Wallop (Dom Coleman) more David Lynch than Mighty Boosh with his simultaneously disturbing and hilarious googly eyes.
All of this plays out in the background of ostensible plots, as Herbert tries to do things like score an acting job as a computer or write a jingle, but there’s no attempt at a serial narrative here; the episodes are widely kept to an 11-minute dose of unfettered madness, each one grounded subtly and generously by a superbly deadpan Lucy Pearman as Herbert’s partner, Bobby. The result is the most distinctive TV series debut since Maria Bamford’s Lady Dynamite.
The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk is on BBC Two at 10pm on 4th August 2019, with the whole box set available on BBC iPlayer.