Hard Cell – The DVDfever Review – Netflix – Catherine Tate

Hard Cell Hard Cell: While Catherine Tate’s The Nan Movie clutters up UK cinemas, she brings a new comedy to Netflix with this new six-part sitcom.

You might get the feeling I’m not a big fan of Ms Tate’s comedy writings, but then after initially not being impressed with the Doctor Who debut in The Runaway Bride, in 2006, she later became a companion to David Tennant’s Doctor in the 2008 series, as well as the 2009/10 Xmas and New Year Specials, and I was sold on her and her character and would’ve liked her to stay, but… she was gone after that, and at the same time as Tennant taking his leave from the show.

Similarly, while I didn’t think Lenny Henry was at all funny after the ’80s ended, he pulled a blinder with the 1991 BBC drama, Alive and Kicking, and the 1999 school drama series, Hope and Glory. So, perhaps drama is a better bet?

So, I go into Hard Cell with mixed thoughts, but I’m open to what follows.

Laura Willis (Catherine Tate) starts her new role of running a prison full of women who have no respect for authority, beginning with one of them having stolen her watch, and she’s taken charge just at the time when a fly-on-the-wall camera crew has arrived to film her.

This is one of those sitcoms where the main star plays several characters from running the place, through prison newbie Angela Brookes, hardened lifer Ros, and to sarcastic male warden Marco, although there are occasionally other recurring characters she doesn’t play, including a ‘pretend Parker Bowles’, prison officer Dean (Christian Brassington) and maintenance man Doug (Bruce Alexander).

Meanwhile, there’s former Eastenders actress Cheryl Fergison playing herself, as she’s come to help with the West Side Story production, over the course of the next six weeks. Personally, I haven’t watched that soap for years. I see from IMDB that she was in it from 2007 to 2016 as Heather Trott, with a one-off appearance as another character in 2005, but this is still after my time of watching it. However, she sets out the ground rules early, telling the prisoners, “Just remember a couple of things. One: don’t be a c**t. And two… that’s it” (Hey, this is a family-friendly website 😉 )

I also watched the second episode, where Laura would rather put any available funds into the musical rather than fixing the broken plumbing system. And that episode was enough for me, given what follows in the next paragraph.

As for the level of humour, prison officer Dean is looking to be her second-in-command and spends his time trying to say “number two” to the camera as often as possible, there’s a ‘Fat Pat’ who has taken to pooing in the sink… but while there are some non-faecal matter-based jokes, this gave me a couple of giggles, but no major laughs.

Thanks to our friends at Netflix for the screener prior to release.

Hard Cell is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Tuesday April 12th.

Hard Cell – Official Trailer – Netflix

Detailed specs:

Running time: 20-25 per episode (6 episodes)
Release date: April 12th 2022
Studio: Netflix
Format: 2.39:1

Directors: Catherine Tate, James Kayler
Producer: Jennie Fava
Writers: Catherine Tate, Niky Wardley, Alex Carter
Creator: Catherine Tate

Laura / Marco / Ange / Ros / Big Viv: Catherine Tate
Dean: Christian Brassington
Anastasia: Niky Wardley
Herself: Cheryl Fergison
Doug: Bruce Alexander
Gary: Peter Singh
Sian: Catherine Morris
Suds: Irene Alano-Rhodes
Blind Sally: Edie Newman
Pat Pat: Lisa Davina Phillip
Cathy with the Hat: Melissa James
No Hat Cathy: Suzie Chard
Thick As Shit Jean: Stacey Guthrie
Cal: Lorna Brown
Sal: Caroline Harding
Charlee: Jola Olajide
Vicki: Dystin Johnson
Fat Pat: Donna Preston
White Pat: Ray Cooksey
Gormless Madge: Marina Hayter
Pretend Parker Bowles: Jane Mosse