Comedy to kill for
POLICE stations aren’t generally the place you expect to find a lot of laughs, so it comes as a surprise that police work is the basis of the ABC’s latest British comedy.
The Gil Mayo Mysteries centres on four forensic specialists led by comedic actor Alistair McGowan, best known for his impersonations on the UK comedy series The Big Impression.
McGowan says contrary to what many believe, laughter and police work do go hand in hand.
‘‘Before I did the program I spent a day with the police in Sussex. They were really helpful and showed me every aspect of police work,’’ he says. ‘‘They use humour on a regular basis because what they’re dealing with is so serious, particularly with murder investigations.
‘‘They are not laughing like hyenas, but they are being witty about it.’’
McGowan filmed the series about two years ago and says it certainly offers something different to your typical crime drama.
‘‘It’s somewhere between parody and serious, I suppose, but really the thing with it is they have a lot of laughs while solving those cases,’’ McGowan says.
‘‘It has a style all of its own; the writing is very different.’’
When it comes to the laughs, McGowan says that by the eighth and final episode, on which he coincidentally has writing credits, the humour is even more palatable.
‘‘When we started on Mayo, the producers said initially if you want to put some extra lines in here and there you can,’’ he says.
And as with most TV detectives, Mayo also has his fair share of personality quirks.
Where Gil Grissom in CSI might have a fascination with bugs, Mayo’s bugbear is grammar and the correct use of the English language.
‘‘In the first episode they put in that he was obsessed with the correct use of language,’’ he says.
‘‘He keeps correcting people as he is solving the mysteries.’’
Though The Gil Mayo Mysteries wasn’t picked up for a second series by the BBC, McGowan says crime dramas will always have enduring appeal.
‘‘I think in a way they are like visual crossword puzzles or visual sudoku. People like solving the cases themselves,’’ he says.
‘‘It’s TV with a beginning, a middle and an end. They like to think by the end of the hour it’s been mapped out.’’
This murder business is a joke:
Alistair McGowan plays a forensic expert in a new police comedy.