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Audio Comedy Review

Book Cover

Think the Unthinkable
The Complete First Series


Written by: James Cary
Starring: Marcus Brigstocke, Emma Kennedy, and Catherine Shepherd
BBC Audio
RRP: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 4056 8830 7
Available 04 February 2008

Unthinkable Solutions are the hapless management consultants who inflict their unique brand of help on unsuspecting companies. This first series of the BBC Radio 4 comedy won a Silver Award at the Sony Radio Academy Awards, and stars Marcus Brigstocke as team leader Ryan ("Imagine you are square pegs and we are round holes. Try to think of me as a round hole") Emma Kennedy as the sociopathic Sophie and Catherine Shepherd as the relentlessly nice, deeply naïve and dopey Daisy...

Think the Unthinkable is a sitcom about hapless management consultants. Each week the team of consultants inflict their unique brand of help on unsuspecting companies. It's time to think the unthinkable as Longley's Bank needs to transform its image. So what can the team of consultants bring to the table? Ryan and company also become part of rationalising council services (i.e. sacking people), and an ailing high street retailer desperately seeks their help to taking on the competition.

It's time to bring IT expert Owen into the loop when customer complaints reach record levels at a call centre, and it's mission critical with the capital's transport system in shambles.

Owen, David Mitchell, only appears in episodes four and five. However, he went on to become a regular in the following series' and it's not difficult to see why. Anyone who has ever dealt with anyone in IT will instantly recognise a lot of Owen's traits. In fact, for me, Owen was about the best character in this collection.

The biggest problem with this series is that it is very much a product of its day. In the brief note on the CD sleeve, creator James Carey explains that the idea for the show arose in 1999 when he noticed that some of his university friends were management consultants. It was obvious to him that these were jobs they couldn't possible do. Going into companies and telling them how to run a better oiled machine, when they had no business experience themselves, seemed ludicrous to Carey. However, the idea of management companies, run by university leavers, seems so late '90s. Especially when you factor in terms like "Blue Sky Thinking". It all seems very reminiscent of the early Blair years somehow.

For some unfathomable reason this show went on to run for four series - don't ask me how as this is basically a one gag show. This is the sort of comedy that works pretty well as a five minute sketch, but stretched across 30 minutes the cracks soon start to appear.

By far the worst victim of this is the character of Daisy. Once you've established that she's going to come out with some dippy, hippy wishy-washy idea there's really nowhere else for the character to go. And this seems to be borne out as the series progresses, as the character takes more and more of a backseat as they seem to be unsure of what to do with her.

But then when you discover that the show's creator and writer, James Cary, has previously written for My Family, My Hero and Chucklevision, things all slot into place.

You only get five episodes in this first series, and to be honest, once you know the set up, you can pretty much fill in the rest of the gags yourself.


Darren Rea

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