It has been panned by critics, mainly owing to its sexist jokes, but I saw The Security Men as an enjoyable hour of farcical comedy.
Written by Caroline Aherne and Jeff Pope (both of whom penned the sublime Fattest Man in Britain in 2009), The Security Men centred on four shopping centre guards who decide to switch off the alarms, so that they can watch Amir Khan’s boxing match in peace. However, when they return to their posts, they are dealt a blow bigger than Amir’s when they discover that a jewellers’ has been burgled in their absence. Panicking, they then set about trying to get themselves out of hot water by attempting to re-enact the robbery on CCTV.
Even before sitting down to watch The Security Men, I was very hopeful. Having been written by such talented and capable writers as Aherne and Pope, and starring a great cast (reading like a Who’s Who of British comedy), I could tell that I was going to enjoy it, even if only partly.
Peter Wight played Kenneth, a straight-laced guard who it wouldn’t be unfair to assume is something of a ‘Mummy’s Boy’ (or ‘Mammy’s Boy’, as Jimmy would say). Of course, a lot of people will know Peter as Nige – one half of the idle police team in Early Doors, created and written by Aherne’s Royle Family collaborator, Craig Cash. So, in The Security Men, he was in a similar profession, but with a completely different attitude to it.
Elsewhere, Dean Andrews showed that he wasn’t leaving behind his job of protecting the public either, as he went from DS Ray Carling in Life on Mars to…Ray in The Security Men, the ringleader of the boxing-watching trio.
Even though I had seen in him other programmes before, it was difficult to watch Brendan O’Carroll as Jimmy, without envisaging him in his dress and curly wig as loud-mouthed matriarch, Agnes Brown. O’Carroll was excellent as Jimmy, and never ceased to make me laugh whenever he asked someone, ‘Would you wash your Mammy? I mean, if she was partially soiled…’
The cream of the Security Men crop, however, was Bobby Ball whose character, Duckers (a name noticeably lent from an unseen character in The Royle Family) was a welcome extension to Morris, his happy-go-lucky character in The Fattest Man in Britain. He was filthy, he was crude but, most importantly, he was funny. Whatever would Tommy Cannon say? Actually, is Tommy still around..?
A SUCCESS – UNLIKE THE MEN THEMSELVES…
Initially, I worried that one hour (46 minutes, sans adverts) would not be enough for the potential of the plot to be fully realised. However, it transpired to be ample and, despite a somewhat slow start, The Security Men succeeded in providing us with a well-thought through storyline, as well as Aherne’s trademark down-to-earth dialogue and working class characters.
While Wight and Andrews’s characters may have been more developed than those of O’Carroll and Ball, all of them were a treat to become acquainted with over the period of the programme. I particularly thought that it was a good idea for the writers to originally not have Kenneth as part of the others’ plan to watch the boxing, but end up becoming embroiled in the scheme and partly responsible for the robbery.
Having said that, you can’t please everyone and, as I said, The Security Men was criticised by the Daily Mail and the Arts Desk, with its apparently sexist jokes receiving most of the flak. I don’t believe this to be anything to condemn, though. The majority of these jokes were told by Duckers, but his personality was such that you would imagine he’d comment on his wife’s breasts and piercings, and offer a policeman a couple of the pictures of her ‘for the lads in the station’. What Aherne and Pope depicted was a male-dominated environment, so surely it is only natural for at least one of the guards to be slightly risque with his comments? I think so, anyway.
I’m not sure whether this one-off episode of The Security Men will have ITV’s Comedy Commissioner, Myfanwy Moore, rushing to order a full series and nor will it likely be remembered as a remarkable comedy-drama but it stood alone pretty well, and I applaud the writers and stars for managing to carry it off – and beating Have I Got News for You and Not Going Out, both on BBC1, in the process
What did you think of The Security Men? Do you agree or disagree with my review? Feel free to comment below or tweet me about this or any other TV show – @UKTVReviewer.