After airing nearly 2,000 episodes since it was first broadcast in 2009, Pointless has become a regular family favourite and made a nationwide star out of its intelligent and amiable co-host Richard Osman. Since then he has become almost inescapable, making many appearances on panel shows, running wholesome Twitter knockout competitions like The World Cup of Crisps, and even spawned other hit tea time shows such as House of Games. Not content with being TV's shoulder-peak king, Richard Osman's latest super successful venture has been to write two chart-topping murder mystery novels based around a crime solving group at a retirement home with a third expected to be published later this year. No doubt about it: after befriending millions of us through our TV screens, Osman is on the fast track to becoming a national treasure.
Wry comedy that never outstays its welcome
As soon as I saw the title of The Richard Osman Fan Club I was drawn in. You might have noticed that I too am a big fan of the intellectual gentle giant. I fantasise about winning the Pointless jackpot (and the oh-so-important Pointless trophy). I've been in the live audience for a few show recordings. One Christmas I was even gifted two copies of The Thursday Murder Club. But enough about the man – what about the fan club?
Thankfully the show itself (as no doubt Osman would be relieved to know) turns out to be more a homage to the world Osman has created than a bunch of stalkers looking to indoctrinate Fringe goers into their cult. This gentle comedy follows the chance meeting of Greta, a bumbling elderly Osman fan, and Adam, an arrogant young man who treats his jog round the park like it's the Olympic marathon.
Eliza Langland plays Greta magnificently; the first five minutes are without dialogue, throughout which Langland's dotty slapstick portrayal of Greta caused plenty of laughter. Whoever is adapting the adventures of the residents of Cooper's Chase for the big screen should get her number. Steven Finley is her match as Adam; he effortlessly infuses his portrayal with an inflated ego just waiting to be popped. The costuming is also aptly chosen, summarising their characters succinctly in seconds, with Greta in her charity shop Mac and bag full of mysterious items, and Adam in over the top performance running gear.
Writer Wendy Lap is clearly an Osman fan herself, and has sprinkled her script with delightful references for other fans to pick up on. However, the plot isn't exactly believable and even with only 30 minutes to play with there is still room for things get baggy. For example, the transition from our initial beliefs to later revelations is handled by some rather clunky bag rummaging. Even so, it's meant to be farcical rather than realistic and the humour gained from larger-than-life characters easily plaster over any cracks in the narrative.
Yes, those who know that Central African Republic used to be a pointless answer, or take their tea white with no sugar, are most likely to roar with laughter at the in-jokes and references. However, even if you're not an Osman aficionado, if you have a soft spot for senior sleuths you're sure to find much to love in this wry comedy that never outstays its welcome.