Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach (4 stars)

Moving Wallpaper/Echo Beach

ITV1, Thu 10 Jan, 9pm

COMEDY/SOAP

OK, I’m confused now. Having checked and then double checked the TV schedules, it appears to be true; Moving Wallpaper and Echo Beach are on ITV1. Yes, ITV1. They’re the people who last year washed us away on a sea of swill with Benidorm and unleashed Liza Tarbuck upon us for Bonkers, possibly the worst yet, conversely, best comedy-drama title of the year. But here we have a pair of interconnected shows with a sprightly idea at the core of their very beings. ITV haven’t had that on their comedy roster since Rik Mayall transformed himself into a Thatcher-grovelling B’stard.

Echo Beach on its own is, of course, garbage. A glossy soap-style affair with Jason Donovan and Martine McCutcheon and Hugo Speer and Susie Amy adds up to less than zero, but in the context of Moving Wallpaper (a smart comedy about the making of Echo Beach), it grows more arms and legs than a sand-obsessed, flesh-friendly slab of small screen narcissism ought to. Little moments murmur into Echo Beach and reflect back onto sequences we have seen in Moving Wallpaper as the fictional writers try to make hay on a Cornwall-based rural soap about love and betrayal. Recently hired producer Jonathan Pope (Ben Miller, suitably inspired after his dire sketch series with old buddy Eck Armstrong) wants to kick some arse into proceedings by ditching the uglier actors and stodgy scripts and injecting his new baby with sex and scandal. It’s fruity and fun and so not ITV.

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