It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since DJ Sound as F*** and pair of hyperactive flatmates on the run from the cops first appears on our screens. But now in its third and final season, BBC Three’s Witless returns for possibly its best run yet, as the show finds new emotional depths to give the criminally silly sitcom a moving send-off.
Kerry Howard and Zoe Boyle are now so comfortable in their roles as the ditzy Leanne and the desperately sensible Rhona that it’s a joy just to see them again, as they continue their hair-brained scheme to frame gang boss Willy Whelan (Francis Magee at his growling best) by infiltrating a funeral. Oh, and run from the cops. And deal with the fall-out from Patrick (Samuel Anderson) discovering that Leanne isn’t pregnant after all. It’s busy amount of loose threads, but Witless is at its best when juggling umpteen plot strands with a panicked precision – and writers Lloyd Woolf and Joe Tucker make it look easy to wrap Season 2’s cliffhanger up, whipping our duo back into police custody and into Witness Protection all over again.
It’s testament to the chemistry between our leads that the programme almost falls apart when the former flatmates are separated to live new lives – Howard’s Leanne amusingly thrives as an estate agent, while Boyle’s cowgirl waitress visibly crumples into a lonely heap. When they’re inevitably reunited, everything clicks again, in a way that all the best double acts just do, and it’s not long before another absurd scheme is concocted, involving kebabs, hammers and (yes, really) the Tudors.
Along the way, Howard and Boyle get to show off their superb comic timing, as Leanne relishes the chance to pretend to be a hard-boiled cop, and Rhona flounders as her polite partner – and they’re balanced beautifully by Baz, their new friend, who steps slightly too far over the line into disturbing territory. Their time apart, meanwhile, also gives us more opportunity to sympathise with Patrick, a love interest whose passion for restoring vintage teddy bears remains as unlikely a plot point as it is a delightfully unexpected medium for some cute romance. After the show’s inspired transformation of Nicholas Fruin’s DJ Sound as F*** from a teen assassin to a melancholic figure, meanwhile, Season 3 continues to draw out the character’s human side, in the most bleakly heartfelt and hysterically stupid ways.
All of this, of course, is served up at a breakneck pace that keeps everything just on the right side of implausibly realistic, as the chaos is met by our heroes’ recognisably immature and disorganised reactions. It moves so quickly that you almost don’t have the time to appreciate the delight of John Inverdale’s cheesy educational videos, or the slick way in which Leanne and Rhona infiltrate a hairdresser’s to prey on their latest mark, or the show’s casual obsession with Quavers. By the time things escalate into a grand finale, you’ll just be sad to see the end of what has grown into one of BBC Three’s best new comedies. Well, you would be, if you weren’t so busy laughing.
Witless Season 3 is available on BBC iPlayer until 9th July 2018.