There’s no denying that The Royle Family is one of the best sitcoms of the past twenty years. Part of its success was definitely the well-observed writing of Craig Cash and Caroline Aherne. While Cash went on to write and direct a number of successful shows, Aherne remained relatively quiet. Outside of The Royle Family Christmas Specials, Aherne’s last project as a writer was the 2009 festive special The Fattest Man in Britain. This week Aherne reteams with Jeff Pope, who co-wrote The Fattest Man in Britain, for one-off comedy The Security Men. The show focuses on four security guards and, like The Royle Family, is totally based in one enclosed set.
The set in question is a shopping centre in which three of the guards enjoy nothing more than doing as little work as possible. The only issue is that their boss Kenneth takes his job awfully seriously and often fills out incident forms that nobody reads. We first see Kenneth as he encounters a spillage of coke outside the shopping centre’s food court. Kenneth is then seeing using six cones to isolate the zone before filling out one of his beloved forms. Meanwhile Kenneth’s colleagues Ray and Jimmy are busy betting on how many cones he will actually use. The three men are soon joined by Duckers who has just returned from a cruise ship holiday with his wife Linda. Throughout the episode we learn more about Linda as Duckers delights in showing off the topless photos that he took of his wife. As Kenneth goes on his break, to call his beloved mother, the other three take this as their opportunity to relax. They decide to disable the alarm system and unlock the shutters to the electrical store in order to watch a boxing match on the big screen. As Kenneth rumbles their scheme, they feel like their enjoyment is over so they are surprised when he joins them. However their fun may cost them their jobs when it is revealed that a robbery has taken place in the jewellery store. The guards then must decide how to explain the situation without losing their jobs.
After spending a few minutes trying to come up with an idea, Ray finally decides that they should restage the robbery. To override the security tape, Ray enlists the help of his tech-savvy nephew ASBO Rhys. While Rhys sets about trying to erase the tape, the guards attempt to decide how best to restage the robbery. It is eventually decided that Ray and Kenneth play themselves while Jimmy and Duckers take on the role of the robbers. Obviously the re-enactment of the robbery doesn’t go without a hitch as Duckers and Ray initially muck about instead of taking the project seriously. Eventually the team construct a believable robbery, thanks in part to the dirty water left by the shopping centre’s cleaner Eunice. The final part of the group’s plan is to attempt to convince the police that their reconstruction of the robbery was actually what happened. The main issue is that the lead officer is as anal as Kenneth and he insists on watching the security footage over and over again. So the lads are forced to wait with baited breath to discover if their plan is successful.
About ten minutes into The Security Men I knew I was watching a Caroline Aherne programme. The mundane conversations between the four men was a style Aherne perfected while writing The Royle Family. Aherne and Pope perfectly demonstrate how dull the job of security is and how these men break up their time by messing about. A great example of this is when Duckers and Jimmy patrol the shopping centre in their little carts and start to muck about. I also thought Duckers’ lines about his inappropriate wife were brilliant as we learnt how vulgar she was throughout the show. In fact I personally enjoyed the first fifteen minutes of The Security Men, as it appeared to be a simple programme about four different men bought together by their jobs. So I personally didn’t think it needed the robbery element to move the plot along however Pope and Aherne thought that programme needed an exciting incident. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the comedy that came out of the robbery caper especially the sequence that was set to The Sopranos’ theme tune.
Aherne and Pope have also created a wonderful comic character in Head of Security Kenneth, a man who takes his job a little too seriously. Kenneth is the archetypal jobsworth and puts me in mind of classic comic creations such as Arkwright and Captain Mainwairing. Kenneth was at his best during the first ten minutes where he was filling out an incident report and sending Eunice a memo about her dirty water. Regular supporting player Peter Wight also excels in playing Kenneth as he adds a certain likeability to the character. Meanwhile Brendan O’Carroll takes off his Mrs Brow’s Boys dress to play the sarcastic member of the team. Despite not being a fan of O’Carroll’s TV show I thought he worked well as part of the ensemble. Predictably it is Bobby Ball who is given the majority of the laughs as the slightly stupid Duckers as he is able to put some of his physical comedy to good use. The only member of the cast who isn’t give a lot to do is Dean Andrews as Ray, the sort of straight man of the group. I feel Andrews’ abilities are squandered in The Security Men and hopefully his character will be fleshed out if the programme is awarded with a full series.
Indeed I feel like the big question is, will The Security Men be rewarded with a whole series? In my opinion The Security Men definitely has enough promise to be turned into a full series however I would personally make some changes. I would make the episodes 30 minutes long while cutting back on the plot and instead focusing on the mundane nature of our quartet’s jobs. Overall I really enjoyed The Security Men and I have to say I laughed at least four or five times. Aherne and Pope have crafted some brilliant characters and put them in the most boring of situations. I felt that Peter Wight shone the most as the incredibly anal Kenneth however he was well supported by the rest of the ensemble. The Security Men definitely proved that Caroline Aherne is still great when it comes to crafting believable and funny comedy characters. So, after watching The Security Men, I wondered why we don’t see Aherne writing more scripts because that’s obviously where her talents lie.
What did you think to The Security Men? Do you believe it could be turned into a full series? Leave Your Comments Below.