Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn
The Wrong Mans is a BBC Television comedy drama series, co-produced with American online television provider Hulu. It premiered on BBC Two on 24 September 2013, and in the US on 11 November 2013.It was co-created and written by Gavin & Stacey alumni James Corden and Mathew Baynton.
Sam Pinkett (Mathew Baynton, Spy) and Phil Bourne (James Corden, Fat Friends), undistinguished Bracknell council co-workers, abruptly become entangled in a far-fetched – but deadly serious – web of crime, conspiracy and corruption after Sam answers a ringing phone at the site of a car crash.
The idea for the series initially arose out of a conversation between Corden and Baynton on the set of Gavin and Stacey, four years earlier, regarding the apparent scarcity of TV sitcoms with the same level of intricate, meaningful plotting as then-current dramatic hits 24 and Lost. As a starting-point for their own half-hour comedy show pitch to the BBC, the duo were further inspired by the Coen Brothers’ film Burn After Reading, with its central concept of ordinary characters obviously out of their depth in a standard action-movie scenario. The humour in their new TV series, Baynton and Corden decided, would arise not so much from deliberate jokes as from the sheer realistic ineptitude of the heroes’ attempts to cope with a high-stakes melodrama constantly snowballing further out of their control.
Once they began actually writing the series, the two quickly realised this would mean carrying through a much more ambitious project than they had anticipated, eventually leading to a significant amount of effort spent attempting to work out a believably complex, well-paced thriller plot. Producer/director Jim Field Smith (Episodes) described the result as a “movie broken into six parts”, and in filming aimed for a likewise ambitious fusion of the realistic and cinematic, insisting that the thriller elements be played entirely straight.
Regarding the apparently awkward title, Corden explained that the extra and ungrammatical “s” was deliberately placed “to let you know it’s a comedy show. If it was a drama, it’d be called The Wrong Man.”