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Series / The Cleaner (UK)

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The Cleaner is a BBC One Black Comedy which first aired in 2021. A Foreign Remake of the German comedy Der Tatortreiniger, it stars Greg Davies as a Crime Scene Cleaner named Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead. Wicky works for the Shropshire-based cleaning service Lausen on cleaning up crime scenes. As he does, he usually encounters people related to the said victim, from their relatives and employers, to even their murderers.

The entire first series was made available at once on the BBC iPlayer.

The show is not to be confused with the 2008 A&E series The Cleaner, or the trope of a similar name that this show uses as its framing device.


The work provides examples of:

  • Alone with the Psycho: The plot of "The Widow"; as Wicky is cleaning up the crime scene alone, the murderer comes back and holds him at gunpoint. They seemingly develop a connection and the widow decides to head away with Wicky. However, it's eventually revealed that he used the opportunity to call the police when she wasn't looking.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Wicky is introduced walking into a room and taking in the blood stains like a Hardboiled Detective. Then he sets down his cleaning supplies and moans about how long it'll take for him to get the space clean.
  • Berserk Button: Wicky doesn't like it when people refer to his occupation as "mopping up" because he doesn't use a mop.
  • Black Comedy: A lot of laughs are mined out of death and decay even in episodes that don't feature blood and gore.
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  • Blood Is the New Black: The widow in the first episode (who murdered her husband and at one point holds Wicky at gunpoint) has a blood-covered shirt.
  • Bloody Horror: Since Wicky is a crime scene cleaner, this is a given, which most of the locations that he visits having blood everywhere.
  • British Brevity: The first series is expected to last 6 episodes, which is still longer than the usual amount of episodes in the original German series (usually about 4 episodes).
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Although he's quirky and often surly, Wicky is very good at cleaning up crime scenes and takes pride in his abilities.
  • Cleanup Crew: Wicky is a one-man cleanup crew, making sure no traces of death remain when he's done. In a twist to the trope, he's providing a legitimate service and working on the right side of the law.
  • Cool Old Lady: Vivian from "The Aristocrat", who stood up to a burglar with a very long knife and clubbed him to death with a golf club. Subverted with the reveal of the latter — she could have helped him but chose to finish him off because he damaged her sofa, which Wicky rightfully points out is inexcusable.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: A fair amount of the show's humor comes from Wicky's nonchalant reactions to cleaning up blood-doused scenes caused by a murder.
  • Doomed Autographed Item: Wicky accidentally destroys the Writer's autographed book of Welsh Poet Dylan Thomas's collection of poetry by dropping it into cleaning liquid in "The Writer".
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: This turns out to be the reason why the Widow finally snapped and killed her husband. She wanted to go to Italy on vacation to visit the Dolamite mountains, something she dreamed of since she was a child. She gave her husband plenty of hints of what she wanted and felt that he owed it to her for all the years of going to modeling conventions for their vacations. Her husband got her hints but decided that instead of a vacation he would build her a large model of the location. This finally broke the woman and she stabbed the husband to death for being so self-absorbed and blind to her needs.
  • Drunk Driver: Wicky encounters a person in a wheelchair who was left paralyzed as a result of self-inflicted drunk driving in "The Neighbour".
  • Fan of the Past: Hosea (the influencer from the titular episode ) is a big fan of the 1980s and has merchandise of it all around his room.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All the episode names use the subtle theme of using “The ______”. E.g “The Widow”, “The Influencer”, etc.
  • Insistent Terminology: Wicky insists he's a crime-scene cleaner.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Wicky comes off as a bit of a grumpy, lazy, self-centered, emotionally-stunted, and unambitious jerk at times, but he's quite friendly, kind-hearted, and empathetic deep down. The episodes generally revolve around him developing a bit of a bond with the person that the episode title refers to.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In “The Aristocrat”, a robber supposedly tripped and fell down the stairs in a rich old lady's house. Wicky soon finds out that the old lady actually smashed his head in with a golf club. At the end of the episode, the lady herself trips and falls down the stairs completely by accident.
  • Manchild: "The Widow" features a character played by Paul Chowdhry (47 at the time of filming) who dresses and acts like a child despite having a full beard and greying hair. He's credited, appropriately enough, as "Man Boy".
  • Minimalist Cast: The amount of people who appear in a particular episode can be counted on one hand. Of those, only one (Wicky) appears in more than one episode and only two or three are of any importance to the part (with the others being extras).
  • Musical Episode: "The Widow" suddenly segues into a song-and-dance number between Wicky and the episode's titular character.
  • Parental Abandomnent: Hosea's parents wanted to move to another country but he refused to leave. They decided that he was old enough to live on his own so they gave him the house and plenty of money and left the country without him.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Discussed by the Widow. By the time she realized that she was married to a boring selfish man, she had committed decades of her life to the marriage. She felt that if she left her husband it would render a good portion of her life a waste and she could not deal with that.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: The crime scene in "The Widow" is a result of a woman finally flipping after decades of a stifling marriage and stabbing her husband 38 times.
  • There's No Kill Like Overkill:
    • The Widow stabbed her husband 38 times. Wicky complains of the mess so many stab wounds make, saying five is plenty to do the job.
    • Although accidental, the death in "The Influencer" resulted in major blood vessels being severed and blood spurting out all over the scene.


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