Why You Need To Watch Death On The Tyne

Just a few of the reasons you’ll want to set sail with Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson for this rip-roaring high seas whodunit…

Death on the Tyne

1. IT'S AGATHA CHRISTIE WITH LAUGHS

Imagine the intricate, puzzle-like perfection of a classic Agatha Christie whodunit, only with guffaws, chortles and quite a few snorting-into-your-tea moments. That's the combination that made Murder on the Blackpool Express such an instant classic, and we're getting another helping with this follow-up, which sees coach driver Terry (the inimitable Johnny Vegas) and tour guide Gemma (the wonderful Sian Gibson) taking a new lot of tourists on a new holiday. Will it be any smoother and less corpse-strewn than their last jaunt? Based on the title, we're going to go with "Probably not".

2. IT'S GOT AN IRRESISTIBLE PREMISE

One of the strokes of genius in the original was the way it turned the Agatha Christie original on its head. Instead of the opulent Orient Express, packed with a selection of glamorous and mysterious passengers from across the world, we had the cheap and cheerful Blackpool Express, loaded with ordinary folks on their hols. This new whodunit does the same thing, except this time we're on the ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, in a gleefully cheeky take on Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. Terry and Sian only have a trio of older ladies as their clients this time ("Destiny's Child with osteoporosis"), but that doesn't mean things will be any easier once the voyage is underway. Still, at least Terry has a squeaky clean driving license now ("I went on a course and the points just melted away").

3. IT'S A TOUCHING ROMANCE (SORT OF)

Death on the Tyne isn't just about sudden death striking between cabaret singalongs and buffet blow outs. It's also the tender, sweet tale of one man's desire to propose to his beloved. Unfortunately, that man is Terry, who's cackhanded at the best of times, and can be counted on to fumble clumsily with an engagement ring like an orangutan with an iPhone. Will he succeed in slipping it on Gemma's finger without first dropping it down the nearest plug hole? One thing's for sure, they're definitely - in the words of Johnny Vegas - the "Kylie and Jason of budget travel slaughter".

4. THE CAPTAIN IS HILARIOUS

Death on the Tyne has comedy stars all over the shop (or ship), including James Fleet of Four Weddings and Vicar of Dibley fame. He's pitch-perfect in the role of Captain Jack Pearson, a salty sea dog with an eye for the ladies. Indeed, he's brazenly on the lookout for his perfect "sugar mummy" despite being of retirement age himself. Could passenger Mildred be the pensioner of his dreams? Well, once you see their courtship you'll never think of Titanic in quite the same way again (Mildred, naked: "Draw me like one of your French girls, Jack." The captain, clothed: "I've only got a biro but I'll give it my best").

5. DOON MACKICHAN IS DELICIOUS

We know there's at least one murderer on board this ferry, but there's also a thief. We're referring to the great Doon "Smack the Pony" Mackichan, who shamelessly steals every scene as the on-board singer, Emily Valentine. Take Jane McDonald, add equal dashes of Joan Collins, Kim Kardashian and Cruella de Vil, and you've got Emily. Vain, egotistical and a full 10/10 on the Hyacinth Bucket social climber scale, she's eagerly anticipating her husband, the first officer, becoming ship's captain. If anyone on board has a murderous streak, it's Emily, and Doon Mackichan sinks her chops into the role with gusto. You won't want to egg her on, but you will.

6. IT'S GOT LYNN FROM ALAN PARTRIDGE!

Any self-respecting comedy fan will be overjoyed to know that one of the stars of Death on the Tyne is none other than Felicity Montagu, aka Alan Partridge's hapless/iconic PA, Lynn. It's always a treat to see her in roles not related to Norfolk's favourite cheese-wielding son, and here she plays Denise, the cruise director and all-round mother hen of the ship. She's particularly protective of the aforementioned Emily Valentine - a loyalty that may just see her go down a very dark path indeed...

7. YOU CAN SHOW OFF YOUR KNOWELDGE

Like dropping fact bombs while watching telly with friends and family? Here's one for you: when engine room bigwig Janus comes on screen, you can tell everyone that he's actually played by the writer of the show, Jason Cook. But aside from that, don't talk too much and let your inner Poirot pay attention to all the clues... there's a murderer on board, don't you know.