Posts Tagged ‘Ivor’

SPOILER ALERT for any show listed below especially Bluestone 42!

So it’s tatty bye to Bluestone 42‘s Captain Nick Medhurst. The bomb disposal detachment’s charismatic Ammunition Technical Officer played by Oliver Chris has finally run out of luck.

Tower Block and Nick running from yet another explosion image credit BBC

Tower Block and Nick running from yet another explosion
image credit BBC


He was critically injured while trying to free a fellow soldier from a booby trap and though he survived, Medhurst did lose a leg. Looking back over the past series I suppose there were clues; the tricky Taliban bomb maker who seemed to be targeting the Captain specifically, the IED and ambush that resulted in a tense situation for the team and a serious concussion for Nick. He was definitely on his way out though we couldn’t know exactly when or how.

Anyhow, an amputee explosives expert just won’t do so, of course, Nick will be sent home to Old Blighty. Meanwhile  his replacement has already arrived in Afghanistan. We’ll have to see how new ATO Ellen Best (Laura Aikman) fares in his place.

So why is this television event significant, you may ask? Well, for those who don’t know, Bluestone 42 isn’t a war drama or even a “dramedy”. It’s a proper 30 minute sitcom. And while it’s not unheard of to dispatch a character from a comedy, it seems more jarring than when a crisis is encountered in a more straight forward drama.

For example, after suffering a miserable forced retirement you’d hope that One Foot in the Grave’s Victor Meldrew (Richard Wilson) might be granted a happier ending in the series finale.


Considering the cantankerousity of the man and his constant state of misfortune, perhaps the writers believed killing him off in a hit and run accident was the kindest thing they could do for him. RIP Mr. Meldrew.

Derek, on the other hand, breaks the mold. It disguises itself as a traditional sitcom with its format and the presence of its creator, director and star Ricky Gervais. The thing is Derek has as many touching, sad moments as funny ones. It is set in a retirement home after all so illness and death are a daily occurrence. Many of Derek’s friends succumb to old age and infirmity and every time, he is grief-stricken.

But for me the most shocking exit on the series was the episode when Ivor, a dog that was brought to the home to visit with the residents, was euthanized on-screen. Not “Say goodbye, Derek. Ivor’s going to sleep now,” then fade out. They re-enacted with painful detail exactly how it is to have a beloved pet put down. It was more devastating, by far, then when Derek’s own father died a few episodes later.

Derek and Ivor saying goodbye image credit Derek Productions and Channel 4

Derek and Ivor saying goodbye
image credit Derek Productions and Channel 4


Finally, tragic comedy is stunning even when you know something bad is coming. However, because you’re watching a comedy you think there’s a chance the characters will cheat their fate. Blackadder Goes Forth is a perfect example of this. As we watch one cunning plan after another fail, the viewer wants to believe that there is no way this band of misfit WWI soldiers will be sent over the top to their inevitable deaths.


And yet they do, in stiff upper lip, dark British humor style, they do what they must. I still shed a tear every time I watch that scene. I believe it has such emotional impact precisely because it’s placed in a comedy framework.

So next time you’re watching a UK sitcom, don’t let yourself get too comfortable with your favorite on-screen friends. Appreciate them while you have them. Their chances might be better than soap opera or Game of Thrones characters, but no one is ever completely safe in the harsh and sometimes fickle world of British comedy television.


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