Toast of London is back for a second series. If you missed series one, don’t worry – it’s the sort of programme that’s equally bewildering at whichever point you tune in. Once noticed however you’ll find that the underachieving yet wildly arrogant Stephen Toast (Matt Berry, The Mighty Boosh, The IT Crowd) is hard to ignore.
Series two opens promisingly: frustrated Thespian Toast is reduced to working as a voice recording artist who struggles to fulfil a painfully jovial Boris Johnson’s demands to make ‘Mind the gap’ sound “a bit funkier”. Returning fans will be pleased to know that it doesn’t take Toast long to say “I can hear you Clem Fandango!” and new Toasties will be pleased to know that yes, there is indeed a character called Clem Fandango. Sadly however co-writers Matt Berry and Arthur Matthews (Father Ted) seem to fall short of jokes from then on, perhaps overestimating the hilarity of a silly orgasm face shown in slow motion.
One has to remember that Toast of London is not for the fainthearted: episode one sees Toast signing up for a charity celebrity and prostitute football tournament to raise money for homeless ponies. He does so to get one up on his arch nemesis Ray Purchase (Harry Peacock), also the husband of Toast’s main love interest, Mrs. Purchase (Tracey-Ann Oberman).
It might make you smile, if it never quite makes you laugh. Nevertheless, there’s something surreptitiously charming about Toast’s hopeless pomposity and Berry’s hilarious vocal delivery that might well tempt me back. The good news for post-essay brains is that it requires no thought. In fact, I actively discourage you from thinking about it. Accept Toast of London for what it is: an inexplicable romp through an alternate London. For fans of surrealist humour this could be your cup of tea (not one worth risking attempting to steal your flatmate’s milk for) and for those perplexed by The Mighty Boosh and the like – you have been warned.