Review: The Curse. A brilliant, well written, acted and produced series. rating

It tells the story of– Albert Fantoni (Allan Mustafa), Sidney Wilson (Steve Stamp), Phil ‘The Captain’ Pocket (Hugo Chegwin) and Big Mick Neville (Tom Davis) – a toolbox full of blunt chisels who exist on the fringes of the East End underworld in the recession hit early 1980s.

Emer Kenny stars as as Natasha (Tash) in Channel 4's The Curse a brilliant, well written, acted and produced series. Episode one opens with the caption ‘some of this might have happened’ coupled with narration from Albert’s wife Tash (Emer Kenny) covering some key historical context. Against a backdrop of clips from the archives of the time: “London, the early 80s,” says Tash. “It was rough out there: the worst recession since the war, Thatcher had pulled the working class’s pants down but in the same breath filed down our conscience and replaced it with naked greed.” She goes on to reveal that, of those involved, she is the only one still alive – hence The Curse.

The group meet in the pub. Sidney explains that he’s got a new security job, and a great plan – that if he leaves the door open and turns his back, the gang could pull off a remarkably trouble-free burglary of as much as fifty thousand pounds. But that’s as far as he’s thought it through.

Being so lacking in any details or plan the suggestion is initially greeted with a somewhat mixed reception. Café owner Albert is especially nervous but, after a bit of persuasion from his avaricious wife, he throws his hat into the ring. Phil, a fantasist who a drives for local villains Crazy Clive Cornell (Peter Ferdinando) and smiley but menacing enforcer, Joey Boy (Abraham Popoola), tries to ingratiate himself with his bosses by letting them in on the heist – which they instantly commandeer. A twist of fate means that they get a lot more than they bargained for.

Now a group of shambolic idiots biting off more than they can chew may be a comedy trope but this colourful mix of characters bounce off each other effortlessly. It transpires that there’s more to Tash than initially meets the eye but definitely no more to well meaning but gormless ex-boxer, Big Mick.

The series is fast paced and we are quickly drawn into the aftermath of the robbery – police investigations and proof that there is little honour amongst thieves. The drama is excellent which makes the comedy even funnier: and funny it is. This is one of those comedies that you may have to watch two or three times to get all the jokes – both verbal and visual.

Definitely not a series to miss.

Reviewed: James David

The Curse is on Channel 4 on Sundays 10pm  and all episodes available on All4

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