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22/04/2014

Christopher Stevens on Last Night's TV: How Tommy Cooper's missus stole the show, just like that...

Tommy Cooper was the most imitated man on the planet. During the Seventies, at his zenith, everybody did impressions of Tommy: professional comics and playground clowns alike were certain to get laughs when they parroted his slurred catchphase: ‘Just like that.’

So Simon Nye’s biopic, Not Like That, Like This (ITV), made a perfect start when it had the gangling, gape-mouthed comic on holiday in an Egyptian bazaar, buying a maroon fez — his trademark headgear — from an Arab vendor who was doing an abysmal Tommy Cooper impression.

 

Within moments it was plain that this two-hour drama would be superlative TV, because the one man not impersonating Cooper was the actor playing him, David Threlfall

 

Tommy Cooper was the most imitated man on the planet. During the Seventies, at his zenith, everybody did impressions of Tommy: professional comics and playground clowns alike were certain to get laughs when they parroted his slurred catchphase: ‘Just like that.’

 

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So Simon Nye’s biopic, Not Like That, Like This (ITV), made a perfect start when it had the gangling, gape-mouthed comic on holiday in an Egyptian bazaar, buying a maroon fez — his trademark headgear — from an Arab vendor who was doing an abysmal Tommy Cooper impression.

 

Within moments it was plain that this two-hour drama would be superlative TV, because the one man not impersonating Cooper was the actor playing him, David Threlfall

We had the sleepy meerkats propping each other up, the great white sharks tossing seal cubs into the air in their jaws, the polar bear struggling on a melted ice floe, the bearded vultures soaring on blasts of thermal air, and the sun-worshipping lemurs . . . all the best snippets from countless lavish nature documentaries.

 

Matthew Macfadyen strung together the clips with a voiceover, something about how animal behaviour changed as the day wore on, but it didn’t make a lot of sense. Macfadyen seemed to think that the sun rose at the same moment all over the planet, and he’d forgotten that most animals are nocturnal anyway.

 

But the glorious visuals were a delight and the spaced-out music was hypnotically relaxing. Across the country, millions were nodding off in front of their tellies.

 

All that Easter chocolate and the odd Bank Holiday tipple caught up with us . . . ‘just like that’.

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