Series: A Touch of Cloth

Jack Cloth and Anne Oldman
I hope you've got a strong stomach. It's like a crime scene in here.

A spoof of dark, overwrought crime shows, written by Charlie Brooker for Sky1. The first two-parter was broadcast in August 2012, but two more were ordered even before transmission. Imagine The Naked Gun or Airplane!, but instead aimed at dark crime dramas like Luther or Messiah (along with most crime shows on TV) and you are heading very much in the right direction. Very silly and very funny.

Detective Inspector Jack Cloth (John Hannah) and DC Anne Oldman (Suranne Jones) investigate a series of grisly murders in the City of Town.

This work contains examples of the following, which it generally spoofs mercilessly:

  • Abandoned Warehouse: Both Todd's hideout and the "eerie Stock Footage and prop warehouse".
    Anne: What kind of sick mind creates a shrine to Todd Carty?
    Todd Carty: Oi! What are you doin' in my lockup?
    Cloth: So this is your lockup?
    Todd: Yeah, I store chains, art... my scrapbook here.
  • Action Girl: Anne when she chases down a suspect in the first series (though played for laughs).
  • And This Is for...: Done by Macratty to Jack.
    Macratty: This one's for Tumbler. *POW* This one's for Bullock-
    Tom Boss: Actually, you shot Bullock.
    Macratty: Do you want me to shoot you again?
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    Asap: If they find out you're police, they'll shoot you in the head.
    Cloth: So what?
    Hairihan: Or cut your throat open and pull your tongue through the hole so it flops around like a necktie.
    Cloth: Nothing I can't handle.
    Asap: Or drive you to Swanage and just leave you there.
    Cloth: I love Swanage!
  • Audible Sharpness
  • Audience Surrogate: Invoked. "Can you explain it like I'm some kind of viewer, guv?"
  • Beard of Sorrow: Cloth's Perma Stubble becomes a full-on Beard of Sorrow in the second series.
  • Bi the Way:
    Cloth: So you're gay?
    Anne: Bi, Jack.
    Cloth: No, don't go, it's none of my business.
    • The sequel adds Jack himself, when he inexplicably drives off with Tom Boss.
      Anne: Didn't he kill your wife?
      Cloth: No one's perfect.
      Anne: You don't belong with him! You're straight!
      Cloth: Bi, Anne. (leaves)
  • Bury Your Gays: At the end of Season 2, Hope Goodgirl gets crushed to death, and Anne didn't have much of a happy ending either. Jack, on the other hand...
  • Captain Obvious: In spades, especially from Asap. "Never been found dead before, so this is out of character".
  • Cat Scare: ...jumping out of a corpse.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Towards the start of Series 2, before Jack even gets involved in the case, Tom Boss briefly mentions a pound of heroin that's gone missing from the police station. Jack is later seen giving it to Macratty to gain his trust, and when the obvious Plot Hole of how he obtained it is brought up, Jack insists that he doesn't need to follow the laws of continuity...and to prove it, his beard briefly disappears then reappears in the next shot.
  • Clean Pretty Reliable: Oldman tries this on Cloth. He recovers instantly.
    • Cloth does it to Tom Boss in the season 2 finale. Sets up copious amounts of Ho Yay and Foe Yay.
  • Climbing Climax: At Dénouement Heights, no less.
  • Cowboy Cop: Invoked, and actually discussed by some bystanders as Cloth arrives at the crime scene.
    Youth 1: This guy looks uncompromising, innit?
    Youth 3: Looks like the type of guy don't trust his new partner yet.
    • As seen in Series 2, Jack doesn't even obey the laws of continuity.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Tom Boss pulls a villainous version.
  • Cymbal-Banging Monkey: Played for laughs with Jack Cloth's intentionally Narmy flashback to his wife's tragic death by murder, which has a random shot of a cymbal-banging monkey thrown in.
  • Cypher Language: Spoofed with Upside-Down Writing. Thankfully Anne has the requisite training to decipher it.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Jack's wife appears to give him guidance. And nag him about the state of the bathroom cabinet.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: Katia.
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted by Boss not actually dying.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Cloth asks a black kid on a bike where to find Crossbo, and the kid answers in what appears to be heavily accented, broken English: "Dat dere yute club." Then it turns out that the name of the place he directed Cloth to is literally "Datdere Yute Club". note 
    • Similarly, a discussion between a bunch of chavvy-looking thugs speaking in exaggerated inner-city tones touches on the excellence of Stephen Fry, QI, and harpsichord practice.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe, Boss has this reaction to the jury laughing at his hilariously innuendo-laden testimony.
  • Dying Clue: Todd Carty writes Macratty's name in his own blood before dying, but ran out of room and had to scrunch the last few letters up. He also did some doodling and wrote "FIND JACK CLOTH" on a piece of cloth.
  • Eagleland Osmosis: The detectives and most uniformed officers with the City of Town police all seem to carry sidearms, whereas in real life only specialist Authorised Firearms Officers (AFO's) can do so in the UK.
  • Faux Horrific: At a crime scene, both Oldman and Cloth nearly throw up when they see a framed photograph of Piers Morgan.
  • Fan Disservice: Oldman getting out of bed in the sequel. Hilariously, her body double is a noticeably overweight man.
  • Flashback: "I remember it like it were 'appenin' now... in flashback..."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Tumbler discovers Jack meeting with Oldman when he is undercover, Jack tries to cover himself by saying "Its not what you think, I'm my twin brother!". In Season 3, it is revealed he does have a twin, Terry Cloth, who is killed in the pre titles opening sequence.
    • When Jack and Anne are chased into the construction site by Tumbler, there's a danger sign warning of "Danger of death at end of scene". Guess what happens at the end of the scene?
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: All over the damn place. Even parodied: see Take That, Audience! below.
  • Funny Background Event: Multitudes of silly sight gags and things things going on around the characters.
  • Genre Savvy: In a scene where the police are trying to figure out the method behind the serial murders, Jack rules most of the theories out since they've already been done.
  • Good-Guy Bar: The Copper Kettle.
  • Gilligan Cut: "Then let's just cut to you driving the car!"
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: Boss is fond of this.
  • Homage: It's no secret that Charlie Brooker is a fan of the original Police Squad!, and it shows.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Especially "Cloth" puns.
    "Touching, Cloth."
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: To get Jack to prove he isn't a cop, Macratty gives him a gun and tells him to shoot Twitch. Jack pulls the trigger, but the gun isn't loaded. Macratty's is, however.
  • I Like My X Like I Like My Y: "I like my men like I like my coffee. Bitter, and not half-eaten by cats".
  • Innocent Innuendo: Boss and his court testimony.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The motivation for the serial killer is variously thought to be working his way through the Apostles, the Twelve Days of Christmas, hits of The '80s and favourite Mr. Men. A Freeze-Frame Bonus of The Big Board reveals they've already tried deadly sins, Shakespeare deaths, wonders of the world, books of The Bible, films of Cary Grant, egg dishes, Grand National winners, Martin Clunes vehicles, endangered species, plagues of Egypt and types of spoons.
  • Insistent Terminology: Oldman always refers to the rest of the police force as "the boys down the station" (even while standing in said station).
  • It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: DC Oldman insists you say it "Anne Old Man".
  • Karma Houdini: Assistant Chief Constable Tom Boss avoids a lengthy prison sentence and is able to resume work after brutally murdering members of a jury in the first season.
    ACC Tom Boss: "There was a full inquiry, I apologised, and I went on a rehabilitation course, so as far as everyone is concerned, that is the end of the matter."
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Macratty. Well...shot takes another 30 seconds or so before he actually kicks the bucket.
  • Killer Cop: Tom Boss, the Assistant Chief Constable.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Dr. Natasha Sachet talks almost entirely in these. "This isn't the first time I've stood in this room holding a dripping pussy, is it, Jack?"
  • Last Breath Bullet: Tom Boss, lying gravely wounded on the floor, manages to shoot Hope Goodgirl in the shoulder before she can kill Jack. He's then shot again by Macratty, but he gets better.
  • Left the Background Music On: They like this gag. The first episode alone has the music during a chase scene performed by a local band, and the ethereal music during a scene where two distraught parents are brought in to see their daughter's corpse revealed to be sung by a choir boy.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: It turns out this is why Boss killed Cloth's wife, so that Cloth would fall off the wagon and wouldn't be promoted ahead of him.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Unfortunately for Jack, he's in a scrap metal dealership, and as names for a undercover policeman go "Copper" is a pretty poor one. He gets away with it by insisting it be pronounced "Copére". When he gets Des to join him on the team later, he also chooses a painfully obvious one for an undercover cop; "Sargeant".
  • Literal-Minded: When people aren't Breaking the Fourth Wall or Comically Missing the Point, they're this.
    Jack Cloth: I haven't laughed since my wife died.
    Anne Oldman: Why did you laugh when your wife died?
    • Happens again in the second season when Mike Macratty is going over the security movements for the museum heist.
    Mike Macratty: 20:04, bends down to pick up a discarded bag. Now thats when you come in.
    Jack Cloth: We'll never fit into that bag.
    • And again in the third season when Des and Kerry arrive at her flat after a date.
    Kerry Newblood: Normally I'd invite you upstairs, but...
    Des Hairihan: It's alright, I understand. This car hasn't got an upstairs.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: After Hope Goodgirl is crushed by a falling pillar. This being A Touch of Cloth, they truly are ludicrous.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Macratty is in fact taking orders from a boss known as "the Big Man". It turns out to be Hope Goodgirl.
  • Meaningful Echo: "Owls die."
  • Medium Awareness: Every single character exhibits it, even minor characters.
  • Meta Casting: John Hannah has played brooding detectives before, most notably John Rebus of Rebus. Suranne Jones, who plays DC Anne Oldman, plays a DC in Scott & Bailey.
  • Mr. Exposition: Asap's raison d'etre is to be the character that infodumps the details of the crime whenever Cloth arrives on the scene.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: Averted in-universe. "I took the amusing precaution of dissecting the cat!" Note that it was alive in the first episode.
    • Averted in-universe again in Series 2; a big deal is made of the fact that the bank robbers shot the owl. Why the bank has an owl is Hand Waved but it's implied to be for security purposes.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Aiden Hawkchurch, a foul mouthed celebrity chef who is murdered in the first season, is an obvious parody of Gordon Ramsay.
  • No Communities Were Harmed:
    • The series takes place in the City of Town and surrounding areas in the also fictitious county of Placefordshire.
    • The bank that Macratty's gang rob in Season 2 is called "Banklays", an obvious parody of Barclays.
  • No Fourth Wall: One character comments that they've been told to make their way to a crime scene during the ad break. They don't entirely know what that means. We then go to an ad break.
  • Noodle Incident: Amongst others, the other four times when Cloth's action resulted in the deaths of everyone in an entire building.
  • Nordic Noir: What the busload of Danish tourists in the Funtcuck pub are said to be visiting the UK to get away from. Of course it doesn't go well when DI Cloth enters and causes a scene, throwing people to the ground and eventually drawing his sidearm.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Tom Boss gets shot twice by Macratty, then three more times. He lives, while other characters are killed with a single bullet.
  • Obviously Evil: Played with in Flashback with Boss asking Oldman to help lick the blood off his sword and explaining the motive for his killing spree.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Spoofed when Jack Cloth is working undercover and the boss of the criminal operation calls him up to get over there and explain himself. Cloth says that he'll "be there right away", then immediately walks through the door when the shot switches locations again.
  • One-Woman Wail: In "Undercover Cloth" as Todd Carty is shot during the bank robbery.
  • Parrot Exposition: Most gratuitously with Hairihan endlessly repeating himself when talking over the phone to forensics about the murder weapon.
  • Perma Stubble: Despite constantly shaving, Cloth always has stubble.
  • Perp Sweating: Of the feed-the-blood-of-the-victim-to-the-suspect variety.
  • Plot Hole: In episode 2 of series 2: When the team are searching the abandoned lockup, they are surprised to meet Todd Carty. For the remainder of the episode however, he has inexplicably become a Police Officer, and joined the investigation.
  • Pocket Protector: Cloth's portable electric razor.#
  • Police Are Useless: After realising the police department is compromised, Jack and Anne rush to the safehouse to evacuate the jurors before they are killed. However they end up arriving too late, as they stopped at Nandos on the way there.
  • Police Brutality: Apparently they were able to raise money for charity through a Sponsored Brutalithon.
    Tom Boss: We threw a suspect down the stairs for seven hours.
  • Psycho Lesbian: Hope Goodgirl.
  • Punny Name
  • Pun-Based Title: A parody of A Touch of Frost that alludes to "touching cloth", a euphemism for desperately needing a toilet, to the point of almost soiling oneself.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Combined with a Rousing Speech as spoken by Captain Obvious which results in Cloth Firing in the Air a Lot.
  • Red Herring:
    • In the Season 2 finale, Tom Boss is set up as the "Big Man", complete with flashbacks á la Season 1...turns out he really was just looking for the toilet.
    • In the Season 3 finale it is strongly suggested that DC Asap Qureshi is the killer, as he is seen putting on the same biker gear the culprit is seen wearing. It is later revealed to simply be his uniform for his second job: delivering pizzas on a motorbike.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: At the first murder scene:
    Cloth: (to a dead body) What happened to you, Albert Stafford?
    Anne: He can't tell you. He's dead, sir.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Jemima Symes from the Rhyming Times.
  • Rule of Funny: The entirety of this.
  • Running Gag:
    • Oldman's ringtones are all lesbian-related songs like "I Kissed a Girl" and "All the Things She Said".
    • "Gov? I think you might want to see this..."
  • Series Continuity Error: A deliberate one, at that. The pound of heroin that Jack uses to gain Macratty's trust went missing from the vice squad tuck shop before Jack was ever involved in the case, so him having it, as Asap points out, violates all rules of continuity. Jack promptly rants that he doesn't obey laws, not even the laws of continuity...and to prove it, his beard briefly disappears then reappears when the camera angle changes.
  • She-Fu: Anne has this in spades.
  • Shout-Out: The ice-cream van that plays the theme tune to The Sweeney.
  • Source Music: Averted; the tense drumbeats during a chase scene are actually provided by a handy percussion group who happen to be nearby. They even take dramatic pauses at suspiciously apropos moments.
  • Take Me Instead: Jack says this after Katia dies.
  • Take That, Audience!: A brief shot of a hospital sign reveals a ward for "Pause Button OCD".
    • Another one in Season 2: a poster in the police station that reads, "Keep Watching and Stop Pausing".
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Throughout the second part of Season 2. First Tumbler is crushed by a bulldozer, then Twitch is shot twelve times by Macratty, then to top it all off, Hope Goodgirl is crushed by a falling piece of the telethon set and explodes into Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Token Minority: DC Asap Qureshi
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Cloth and Oldman are seen holding a case file called "Sexual Tension". It's stamped "Unresolved".
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Boss refers to a suspect that he insists on having locked up "as innocent as Derek Bentley". Bentley, one of the last people to be hanged in the United Kingdom, was famously convicted under "Joint Enterprise" for the murder of a police officer since the person who actually pulled the trigger was a minor and therefore couldn't be punished.
  • Visual Pun: Whenever Des says "You might want to take a look at this" in a serious tone, he is usually just looking at something sexual and completley unrelated to the investigation.
  • Vomiting Cop: Although the gagging is due to pictures of Piers Morgan. This is a Shout-Out to a very similar gag in Police Squad!.
  • Waxing Lyrical: This exchange, consisting of Neil Young lyrics:
    Cloth: Oldman, look at my life!
    Oldman: I'm a lot like you were!
  • Who Murdered the Asshole?: Parodied with the first episode's second murder victim, 'sushi despot' Aiden Hawkchurch. This walking turd was so despised that his featured magazine covers had headlines like "Enemymaker" and "Someone kill him already!". Even random radio broadcasters celebrate his death right after the protagonists muse that there must be a million suspects.
  • Who's on First?: Relentlessly, with Anne Oldman and the murder victim, an old man.
  • World of Pun
  • Would Hurt a Child: In the spoof "Next episode..." segment, we see Cloth attempting to strangle Arthur Killer... a 10-year-old serial killer.

Alternative Title(s):

A Touch Of Cloth