Aerial Telly‘s first job after leaving his shitbox school at the age of 16 was goods inwards clerk at a pissant pipe and fittings merchant and he spent much of his working day arguing with the gentlemen of the haulage industry. What a crew of characters they are! Truckers, BBC’s five-part comedy drama, confirms this. Take Malachi (Stephen Tompkinson) – late forties, sharing a house with his estranged wife Sue (Maggie O’Neill). He finds it hard to accept that the split is permanent and his son Glen (Harry Treadaway) getting on so well with Sue’s new-age borefriend Carl doesn’t help matters. When Malachi walks in on her blowing Carl it sends him headlong into full midlife crisis mode and none of it is pretty.
Work is the first place to suffer. He and Glen work at the same haulage company and Malachi’s off the books truck miles are playing havoc with the new telemetrics system young manager Martin (John Dagleish) is trying to implement. But Malachi won’t be denied from making the twat of himself destiny always intended.
He gets botoxed, a jet black dye job, a Big Ron all over tan and what looks like a chemical face peel. He tries and fails to get a ride off a motorway burger bar girl and a high-class hooker his son sets him up with. Turning his attention to more left-field kinks he attempts to have sex with Carl’s shop (yes really) before tailgating him throughout Nottingham, a chase that culminates in the city’s Market Square right next to the lion statues that are rumoured to roar every time a Nottingham virgin walks past. Everyone in the square is watching. This is his moment.
The chase culminates in the city’s Market Square right next to the lion statues that are rumoured to roar every time a Nottingham virgin walks past.
He climbs on top of his cab and strips down to a turquoise leopard print thong. He delivers a long unfunny speech about dignity, pride and self acceptance. He then rips off his thong, naked literally and figuratively before them. The crowd cheer. He’s Everyman, the little engine that could, the scrappy underdog.
The crowd cheer. He’s Everyman, the little engine that could, the scrappy underdog. But mostly he’s just a twat.
But mostly he’s just a twat. The drunk lunging attempts at pathos in Truckers make you feel like you’re watching Derek. It’s aiming for The Full Monty but it falls woefully short of that kind of wit and insight. Everything about it feels contrived. Those voice-of-the-common-man Frank Gallagher monologues are a teed minefield and it takes a real master to pull them off without being hokey or trite – no danger of that happening here.
It’s a bit of a change from Top Cat for Gashley Walturds who plays trucker Steven Bludfam – a shady character with a mysterious fixation on food. I smell a spin-off.
The verdict: A long haul.
Marks out of 10: 5