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The Curse


(Channel 4, six-part comedy drama series, 2022)

Review by Leah Chillery


As someone who loved the smash hit BBC Three mockumentary series People Just Do Nothing (2012) expectations were high for The Curse – a six-part heist comedy set in 1980s East London – which sees Allan Mustafa, Hugo Chegwin and Steve Stamp join forces with the equally brilliant Tom Davies of Murder In Successville (2015).

It’s hard not to be immediately impressed with this production – we are transported back to a beautifully adorned 1980s East London complete with chintzy costumes, iconic cars and an absolutely banging soundtrack. For anyone old enough to remember those days, the nostalgia will hit you hard.

The very first episode sets up the overall premise, and more importantly establishes the characters at the heart of this story. Married couple Tash (Emer Kenny) and Albert (Allan Mustafa) own a small rundown East End café with most of their profits extorted by local thug Joey. Tash’s brother just happens to work at a warehouse where he claims there is over 50 grand worth of cash begging to be robbed.  Along with their wannabe gangster friends Phil and Big Mick, they devise a plan to do just that. Of course, it’s a terrible idea and this group of hapless young men with zero skills to execute the plan leaves us cringingly watching through our fingers, just waiting for it to all go wrong.

The story is narrated, from Tash’s perspective, by the sultry voice of Camille Coduri. Why Kenny doesn’t narrate is unclear, however the voice and perspective merge together seamlessly and Coduri’s striking accent becomes a welcoming friend to our ears throughout. From the off we are told that Tash is the only one who survives this sordid tale, which far from being a spoiler keeps us constantly guessing how this will in fact come to be. 

The Curse is a fresh, comedic look at an age-old grand robbery tale, which is, according to Stamp, loosely based on a true story. There is just so much leverage to be had by putting this particular group of comedy characters together in this doomed setting and watching the twists unfold. They are a bunch of half-wits so simple that even when all the evidence points in their direction, the detective in charge still cannot bring himself to believe it possible. 

The only thing that is a bit of a let-down when everything else has been pitched so perfectly is that a lot of the dialogue and jokes delivered by the character of Big Mick are lost through the voice Tom Davis donned for the role. As funny as the character is, there are moments in often important scenes where it is impossible to make out what is being said. This can be remedied with subtitles of course.

People Just Do Nothing fans will unconditionally love this show, but it stands up on its own merit, too. The Curse is a well written, good feeling hoot with many big laughs delivered by a stellar cast which can be binge-watched in just one evening. What’s not to love? Just don’t forget the subtitles.