First look UK TV review: Hitmen
Mel and Sue7
Jason and Sian7
Joe and Joe7
Ivan Radford | On 25, Mar 2020
“I’m not going to get so hungry in the next 20 minutes that I give up millions of pounds. I’m not a cartoon bear.” That’s the sound of a hostage situation going horribly wrong in Sky’s new comedy Hitmen – a show where hostage situations rarely go right.
Written and created by Joe Parham and Joe Markham, Hitman follows two best friends trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on. They also just happen to kill people for a living. That approach to the script is echoed by the casting: it stars Mel (Jamie) and Sue (Fran) as two life-long friends. Who just happen to kill people for a living.
It’s certainly a change of pace from The Great British Bake Off, but Hitmen works because it doesn’t stray that far from their usual, goofy schtick; the duo are friends first, assassins second, and the plot always keeps the emphasis on their interactions rather than the violence. Blood splatters and bullets are fired, but they never take centre stage.
Indeed, Episode 1 may see Jamie and Fran waiting on the instructions of Mr K, their boss, as to what to do with a lawyer, but the show is mostly concerned with the fact that it’s Fran’s birthday – and nobody wants to go to her party. Episode 2 sees them trying to get the password to a crucial bank account, but is mainly rooted in the uneven power dynamic that’s emerged over the years of their friendship.
It’s a smart strategy, although it also relies on its cast firing on all cylinders. Mel Giedroyc is a natural, delivering lines with an easygoing charm that never fails to draw a smile. Sue Perkins, though, is a little forced at first, although she settles into the groove of her character gradually. They’re supported by an impressive ensemble of additional actors, including the always-brilliant Jason Watkins and the ever-hilarious Sian Clifford. But it’s their chemistry that really shines, and the more the show relaxes into their playful back-and-forths, the more confident it becomes, with each episode’s final shot never failing to the mark.
The result is a promising showcase for Mel and Sue’s scripted acting skills, a quaint cousin to Killing Eve and a calling card for writers Joe Parham and Joe Markham.
Hitmen Season 1 is available on Sky One. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it live and on-demand legally on NOW TV, for £8.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. (An Entertainment Pass auto-renews at £8.99 a month until 1st September 2020, £9.99 thereafter unless cancelled.)