Noel Fielding gleams in ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin’, a winning, warm, very funny comedy series; Bradley Cooper’s immersive performance makes ‘Maestro’ one of the best biopics yet

Stand and deliver: Noel Fielding in ‘The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin’.

whole series review

In need of some big, obligation-free, agenda-free, non-political laughs in these dire, highly polarized times? Then check out The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, a wonderfully funny, decidedly loopy, six-part British comedy series.

As a highly fictionalized version of the highly romanticized highwayman who rode about doing the “stand and deliver” schtick across the south of England in the early 1700s, Noel Fielding does a delicious job as Dick Turpin.

Essentially reworking his golden performance as Vince Noir from The Mighty Boosh, Fielding plays Turpin as a contemporized New Age Goth with a cool fashion sense. He is into knitting, sewing, group hugs, world peace and is definitely in touch with his feminine side.

A loveable hippie-type, the ever-smiling, optimistic Turpin and his small eccentric gang (including an inept wizard and a power-hungry proto-feminist) confront competing gangs, witches, treachery and crime boss Lady Helen Gwinear (Tamsin Greig).

He is also pursued by corrupt official Jonathan Wild, played by Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville who proves his comedy chops here as he tries to act threatening while dealing with his annoying son.

The show is consistently strong across all six episodes, brimming with splendidly anachronistic gags, references and comic asides. The bit where Turpin does an alteration on an over-long cape is frigging hilarious.

The soft-centred alt-comedy humour holds up nicely in a handsome, swiftly-paced production, Fielding’s relaxed, congenial, winning persona being the warm centre of a delightful, laugh-laden romp. Think of it as The Mighty Boosh Goes Bush.

Clocking in at a mere three hours, The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin makes for perfect binge viewing on a lazy weekend afternoon.

You’re bound to love it. Here’s hoping it gallops into more seasons.


Bradley Cooper and Carey Mulligan in ‘Maestro’.

MAESTRO **** (129 minutes) M
In a singularly compelling performance, easily the best of his career, Bradley Cooper offers an immersive portrayal of legendary composer Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a superb biopic about the artistically obsessed, self-effacing conductor.

Matched by an equally magnetic performance from Carey Mulligan as Bernstein’s long-suffering wife Felicia, the film, directed by Cooper, is a florid blending of old-school style and new-school camerawork that propels us through Bernstein’s richly hued artistic and romantic life.

For about half the film we experience the Bernstein story as an old black-and-white Hollywood romance before it bursts into colour, eventually going to widescreen in its concluding reels.

As a director Cooper brandishes the sureness of touch we saw in his acclaimed debut A Star is Born, garnished with some impressive flourishes of style, including some audacious camera moves.

With the aid of some special nose-enhancing make-up, Cooper is all-but-unrecognizable, his richly nuanced portrayal presenting Bernstein as an artist of extraordinary energy and a husband whose love for Felicia was boundless, his sexual indiscretions notwithstanding.

Maestro easily ranks as one of the finest biopics yet, its Oscar nominations for best film, actor, actress, cinematography, sound, original screenplay and make up offering an upset threat to Oppenheimer.