TV Review: W1A (Series 3)

W1A remains entirely watchable in Series 3 but repetition sets in to blunt its comic edges

“It may be the future but it’s still the BBC”

Returning to W1A has been good fun, though watching its three series back-to-back, it is interesting to see just how much it wears its concept increasingly thin.  Series 1 was a winner, introducing its cast of misfits all trying to navigate the bureauracy of the BBC and avoid doing as much work as possible but even by Series 2, the strains were clear to see.

John Morton’s Twenty Twelve, the show that kicked off this mockumentary mini-universe, had an inbuilt advantage in that it had a clearly defined end-point, the thing that everyone was working towards. By contrast, W1A has a sense of ambling on which, while perfectly pleasant to watch, means that a terminal case of diminishing returns sets in.

Watch any of the meetings dealing with any of crises here and you could be in any of the three series of W1A. And of course it is funny to hear Monica Dolan say ‘I’m not being funny’, or Sarah Parish say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ or both, or Jason Watkins…etc etc but without any sense of progression, there’s a lack of engagement in these characters – watching this series, I found myself multi-tasking for the first time…

And as plot points get recycled too (Siobhan representing the client in crisis, two ‘names’ being attached to a project, Will inadvertently doing good to name but a few), my feeling was that this was six episodes too many. In a rare highlight, Pooky Quesnel fair near steals the show as her government adviser but too often, my mind was wandering watching this. And who (straight people!) could make Hugh Bonneville the centre of so much romantic attention when you have holy trifecta of Daniel Ings, Rufus Jones and Jonathan Bailey all in a meeting together at one point.

Watch W1A on BBC iPlayer here

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