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The 'Mynott' is not a Dr Who monster but a refreshingly good impressionist's talent that is starting to make a name on Channel 4, the rather handsome Terry Mynott. He teamed up with fellow mimic Morgana Robinson to star in the enjoyable impressionist show Very Important People last year and played second fiddle to Morgana in the Morgana Show (2009), also a mix of sketches and impressions. Like Morgana Robinson, Terry has been awarded his own show on C4, The Mimic, yet more impressions. It's written by Matt Morgan from VIP and an exciting partnership building here, echoes of Steve Cogan and Rob Brydon.
Whereas as most comics these days seem to be from university and their connections and regional accent over talent tending to get them a TV gig, Terry left school at 16 and dabbled in several different jobs before he made it in his early thirties, from working in the London sewers, being a photographer's assistant in LA and even touring the country supporting Faithless at aged just 18 with his pop band Kawala. It's great when people are rewarded with a job for the thing they do best.
Terry is a pretty good impressionist and The Mimic the first sitcom I can recall where the main character is a mimic and that's the only angle, reeling off his impressions throughout the five episodes in the series around a light sitcom narrative, here, that of thirtysomething friends who live in flats. It's a brave idea for a commissioner and needs a strong central character to drive it through, which Mynott seems to be able to do, a dumbed down version of himself the conduit to make Al Pacino impressions funny again.
=== The Set Up===
Thirtysomething singleton Martin Hurdle (Terry Mynott) shares a house with likewise but witty best friend Jean (Jo Hartley). He trundles along in life in dead end jobs, his current one seven years in and to litter pick and maintain the grounds of a pharmaceutical company, practicing his impressions on younger co-worker Chelsea (Ami Metcalf).
We join his life with the news he may have had a son by Dionne (Sharon Duncan - Brewster) from a rather brief relationship a long time ago, that secret kept from Martin by Dionne, until now, 18-year-old Steven (Jacob Andersen) of age to find out if that is the case and dad is indeed Martin, a well bought up lad preparing to find his own way in life.
Terry is easy going and just a little bit odd, living alternative moments through his escapist impressionist's skills, be it pretending to be Irish in Irish pubs or being a multitude of TV and film characters to the few friends he has. His only male friend is Neil (Neil Maskell), the local newsagent, an intense and neurotic man, mostly by the news and what's going on in the world, rather ironically, Neil's paranoia running his daily life. He has recently split from his wife and is fascinated by Martin's mimicry, his favorite customer, the only thing that can bring a smile to his face, looking forward to when Martin pops in for a magazine or a pint of milk.
When Terry's ground floor flat floods he is offered a spare room at Neil's, the two soon having some fun exploiting his mimicry skills on the locals, like winding up the PC World clerk, who accuses Martin of having child porn on his computer, the offending picture being of Martin as baby. Revenge is taken as the clerk gets a call from Sir Ian McKellen. They also double date but disaster for both.
Martin's relationship is also improving with Steven, now that they have formally been introduced; the young man impressed enough with his potential dad and Martin's voice mimicry to manage him and get him some work doing celebrity voices for sat navs. But the real reason Dionne has surrendered the revelation of Steven to Martin is the bad news Martin has always feared. One day he will have to do something responsible with his life and be the man he has been hiding behind with all his impressions will have to go.
As a fellow mimic I have reason to like this show and always enjoy it when people nail certain impressions. Michael Caine and Roger Moore are easy to do and what people want but Ricky Gervais is almost impossible, and so when John Culshaw cracked it, we mimics all applaud. Mynott isn't really doing that many new impressions but, like Cogan, has the vocal ability to do a wide range if he so chooses, his Schwarzenegger very good. It's those unexpected impressions that make us laugh most, a genuine skill. In a sitcom format you can't get too technical and have to do the ones people know but this particularly sitcom is quite nuanced and clever so room to do new and more interesting stuff through likewise writing. Taken a blind lady around a zoo doing a David Attenborough impression, as he does in one episode, made me chuckle.
The actual narrative of the show is pretty light and done so that Mynott has plenty of space to unleash his voices in an irreverent way, both Maskell and Hartley's character great to bounce those voices off with a submarine 'ping' of approval from the audience. Its not only the impressions that are funny, some of the writing top notch.
There are five episodes in the first series and unclear whether a new series will be commissioned, the fete of the rather good Very important People. Punters are indifferent to impressionist's shows and they are often seen as cheesy and so stuffed into off-peak slots, almost as if they don't want you to see them. The weekend evening primetime slot is the kiss of death for impressions shows though and if they do get pushed with a promo it only makes things worse. It's always better if an audience finds a new show than to be the horse taken to the water at primetime. The BBCs 'Impressions show' was embarrassing and an example of, many great mimic talents like Chris Barrie and Phil Cornwell ruined by being dumbed down for council house viewing on Saturday night. The Mimic is for clever people and genuinely quite funny and inventive.