A Chip In the Sugar is the sixth of 12 episodes based on the original Alan Bennett scripts, but with new actors.
Set in 1986, Graham (Martin Freeman – The Hobbit Trilogy) is a middle-aged gay man who lives with his absent-minded mother, and what’s largely on display here, is his reeling off of the day-to-day events with her.
However, now, there’s a new man who’s come between them, a Mr Turnbull, and someone who she knew from a time gone by…
I like the way Mr Turnbull is described as “Pre-Dad” and Graham comments, “Pre-Dad? You remember him, but you don’t remember to switch your (electric) blanket off(!)”
In fact, as they bump into Mr Turnbull, he’s quite annoying. For example, Graham and his mum know the cafes they like to go to, but Turnbull insists himself upon them, taking them to a new place, and being similarly annoying in other ways.
Along the way, there’s mention the Ethiopian famine, and a specific event happening outside. Plus, Graham discusses coming across other annoying people, thinks of ways he could correct them, but always adds, “I didn’t say anything…”
Overall, though, it takes a good while before it reveals its hand, but it’s not a particularly worthy hand. However, Martin Freeman’s performance is top-notch, and the first one-take scene lasts almost 13 minutes!
In addition, it’s the first epsiode in the series so far which actually takes place in a single location.
Similar to Playing Sandwiches, this episode also has a warning: “This film is set in the 1980s and reflects the language and social attitudes of the time”, and this comes in references to “the colour problem” as in black people.
A Chip In the Sugar: Talking Heads is on BBC1 on Tuesday June 30th at 9pm. The series is not yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
However, you can also the Original Talking Heads series on DVD.
The entire series is now available on the BBC iPlayer.
Director: Jeremy Herrin
Writer: Alan Bennett
Graham: Martin Freeman
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.