When there’s someone dead, in your neighbourhood. Who you gonna call? Greg Davies, apparently...
By Jon Billinge, Writer
The man, the myth, the begrudging legend – Greg Davies is many things. A former teacher, a literal Man Down in the excellent eponymous series, and, of course, the tyrannical face of the almighty Taskmaster. And now, a crime scene cleaner.
A what? Yes indeedy, a crime scene cleaner-upper. For many of us, perhaps, the prospect of cleaning the place where someone passed away is unthinkable. But in this adaptation of German series Der Tatortreiniger, the profession is brought front and centre.
Macabre? Perhaps. But here the subject is refreshingly normalised, thanks in no small part to a hefty dose of pathos (and laughs aplenty) from leading man Davies. And did we mention the star-studded cast? From Helena Bonham Carter to David Mitchell and Donald Sumpter, we just know this show is going to clean up! (Sorry.)
We spoke to Greg Davies, who plays crime scene cleaner Wicky, about the adaptation, and whether white distilled vinegar really is the top cleaning agent. (Not really.) Read on for his big reveals.
It’s a remake of a hugely popular German comedy
Written by Mizzi Meyer, Der Tatortreiniger (Crime Scene Cleaner) is the biggest crime scene clean-up comedy ever. And true, you’ve likely not watched one before, but this blood-banishing TV behemoth ran for a whopping seven seasons before throwing in the blood-soaked towel.
“Shane [Allen, head of comedy at the BBC] rang me and said, “There’s this strange show in Germany that I think you’d like.” I met the wonderful writer, and she was happy to let it go,” Greg explains. “I took some of her brilliant storylines as a basis for this first series, and then it was largely a total rewrite, because there are cultural differences, especially in humour, that just didn’t translate across.”
Each episode is self-contained
“I thought about a show called Mr Benn, from when I was a kid, where a character went to a costume shop, opened a cupboard, and then got lost in the world of whatever his costume was.
“There’s something old fashioned about a comedy drama like this, where there’s only one constant character, and it’s my character, and he goes on a different adventure every week and it’s all wrapped up.”
It’s gory for surey, but focused on story
“I think that the blood and the gore, and even in some cases the murders [and accidents] that have happened are very much background characters.
“A lot of people have asked me about the blood and the gore, and whether I found it difficult seeing all that... horror, and really I just think it sinks into the background.
“We did get in touch with a real crime scene cleaner to make sure that when Wicky does his job he’s doing it properly... When we mention chemicals they’re the correct chemicals.”
The cast is HUGE
“I’m very much a glass is half empty man. I assume no one is going to say yes. It’s the way I run my life, sadly [laughs].
“When I watched the German original I thought David Mitchell would be great in this part. Then when I rewrote it I [still] had him in mind. It would have been a bit of a blow if David had said no!
“When Helena Bonham Carter said yes, I squealed with joy. She’s got a healthily oblique sense of humour and it was that that made her give it a second read. She was great fun.”
When is BBC One’s The Cleaner on TV?
The Cleaner airs on BBC One HD (CH 101/108) on Fridays at 9.30pm, with the first episode screening on 10 September. It is also available in Apps & Games > BBC iPlayer as a Box Set from Friday 10 September.
The six-part series will subsequently air every week until Friday 15 October.
TV channels: Channels, content and features available depend on your chosen package. Channel line-ups and content are subject to change at any time and to regional variations.
HD: HD TV set, V HD Box, TiVo box, Virgin TV V6 box or Virgin TV 360 box connected with HDMI cables required for HD channels. Number of inclusive HD channels depends on package.
Catch Up TV: Catch Up TV content available for up to 7 days or up to 30 days after broadcast, depending on content.
Interviews: Any opinions expressed in interviews are those of the interview subject and not those of Virgin Media.
Image credit: The Cleaner © Studio Hamburg UK / Jonathan Browning