Com­edy to kill for

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide - JES­SICA LEO

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.

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