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Hitmen, review: Mel and Sue as contract killers? They're better off sticking to presenting

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Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc star in Hitmen
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc star in Hitmen Credit: Sky

The joke in Hitmen (Sky One) is that the hitmen are played by Mel and Sue. And I don’t mean simply that the actors cast in the roles are the comedians and presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the former hosts of The Great British Bake Off. I mean that this new sitcom features the exact same Mel and Sue double act that has become so familiar to us over the years. The same delivery, the same comic timing, the same dynamic of Mel being the slightly sweeter, dimmer one and Sue being the slightly cooler, cleverer one. Remember those little skits they used to do at the beginning of Bake Off, in the gardens outside the tent? Every episode of Hitmen is that, stretched to half an hour, but ending with them shooting someone in the head.

So they are slightly reluctant, very English contract killers who behave as if they’re working in a regular office job. In the first episode, Jamie (Giedroyc) and Fran (Perkins) sat in the front of their van and discussed Fran’s birthday. All the while, a corrupt lawyer (Jason Watkins) was sitting in the back, tied up and with a bag over his head. The three of them ended up wearing party hats and playing charades, stopping off at McDonalds and trying to order their soon-to-be-murdered charge a McFlurry.

In the second episode, they sat and nattered about their relationship problems while a corrupt accountant (Sian Clifford, who I hope isn’t getting typecast as “furious woman supporting character” after her excellent performance in Fleabag) was tied up behind them. (“TV licence dodger,” Giedroyc explains to a passing man, in the show’s one properly funny line.)

The banality of it all is mildly amusing – Fran trying to invite an ex to her birthday party while Jamie is in the same shot, bundling a dismembered corpse into the canal; looking up torture methods on their mobile phone and concluding that they look more like tantric sex positions. The premise of the show isn’t bad and it might have worked with someone else. I bow to no one in my love for Mel and Sue on Bake Off and as presenters – both together and apart – they’re great. But they’re not actors, and this project should have been quietly dispatched before it hit the screen.