Danny Brocklehurst, the scriptwriter for Sky One’s Brassic, used to work for Shameless in its glory days — although if you didn’t know that already you could probably guess. For a start, the central characters are another close-knit group of ducking-and-diving working-class northerners not overburdened with a social conscience. But there’s also the fact that, no matter what they get up to, they’re clearly supposed to be lovable — coupled with the rather more mysterious fact that they are. However dark the storylines theoretically become, the programme presents them with such an infectious swagger, and such a thorough blurring of realism and wild imagination, that the result is not merely funny but somehow joyous.
Series two began on Thursday with Vinnie (Joe Gilgun) still on the run from a local criminal after inadvertently stealing his beloved antique dildo. This meant that whenever he went out, Vinnie was obliged to wear a series of disguises, all of which were deeply penetrable. Beyond that, as a bipolar sufferer, he spent most of the time in a shed surrounded by bottles of his own urine.
Luckily, his chums came up with a plan to coax him from his hut that involved buying the town’s prestigious strip club. In order to raise the £10,000 required, all the group had to do was steal the generators, lights and mixing desk from a visiting circus and sell them to Chinese Dan (who’s not Chinese). First, though, they needed an inside man to tell them which trucks the equipment was stored in overnight. Cue an endlessly scene-stealing performance from John Thomson as a down-on-his-luck clown called Mr Popov — or Colin to his friends — who agreed to help in return for a large bag of weed, two prostitutes and 10 per cent of the strip-club profits.