Does Richard E Grant really have sex on the brain?
Is there anything that can't be done over the internet these days?
Not much, is the premise of new Channel 4 comedy Hang Ups (Channel 4, Wednesday 10pm ), which is entirely filmed from the perspective of someone on a webcam.
Stephen Mangan stars as the therapist Richard Pitt, whose new business venture involved providing therapy sessions and counselling to people via webcam.
As well as running his business this way Richard also conducts all interaction with his sprawling extended family via Skype, Facetime and video calls, constantly jumping from one video call to the next as his stress levels rise inexorably.
What saved this show from being more than a new filming gimmick is the dozens of wonderful performances, many of them cameos from big names as such as David Tennant, Celia Imrie and Jessica Hynes.
The show is largely improvised, particularly the therapy sessions which feature – among other highlights – a gloriously freewheeling performace from Tennant as the maitre d’ who can only communicate with customers when he is pretending to be Spider-Man.
The core cast of Mangan, Katherine Parkinson as his jet-setting wife and Charles Dance as his overbearing father are all excellent and I could feel my stress levels rising in sympathy with Richard as his family, friends and clients all pile on more and more pressure.
But the stand-out, show-stealing performance is from Richard E Grant as the therapist’s therapist.
Grant provides a glorious turn as a sex-obsessed Freudian that will have viewers alternatively howling and cringing. Given that most of these scenes were completely improvised, this performance may tell us a lot about the inner workings of Grant’s psyche. If so, it is a dark, dark place . . .