Channel 4 show Chickens set during WW1 stars Simon Bird and Jonny Sweet
It might not have quite the resonance of ‘briefcase wanker!’ but Simon Bird’s character in Chickens (Channel 4, Fri 2 Sep, 10.30pm) has to take the slur of ‘shame on you’ like a man. But being a man is half the problem here. Or at least the kind of man who refuses to join the World War I effort thanks to his flat feet. Meanwhile, anti-corporal punishment schoolteacher George (Joe Thomas) is keeping away from battle as a conscientious objector and spivvy cad Bert (Jonny Sweet) claims to be unaware that a war is even raging across the channel.
The trio are under the misguided impression that the women of their comatose English village will keel over with gratitude and lust on account of them having stayed behind, but instead the cottage they are sharing is daubed with insults and their letterbox filled with increasingly imaginative hatemail.
As part of C4’s new raft in the Comedy Showcase strand, the 1914 setting is almost a sideshow as the Bird/Thomas/Sweet triptych deliver the same kind of clipped comedic performances and mercurial writing skills that they have graced the Edinburgh Fringe and TV world with for the last half-decade. But if you like that sort of thing, as you ruddy well should, then this Comedy Showcase audition will be a hoot. Fingers crossed that the channel has the courage to greenlight a full series of Chickens.