Chris McQueer's Hings
BBC Scotland's first three adaptations of Chris McQueer's wild comic tales are satisfying; we just hope the next series digs into Hings' richer stories
A single episode of Game of Thrones will set you back around $10 million, and that won't even cover the CGI required to let Jon Snow pet his loyal direwolf. So it's clear that with a yearly budget of just £32 million, the new BBC Scotland channel is operating somewhere between shoestring and skint by TV standards. It's a smart move, then, for the channel to take a punt on Chris McQueer and his surreal, hilariously bleak collection of short stories, Hings.
So fat-free is McQueer's writing that he conjures visceral characters in only a page or two, which makes his stories perfect fodder for low-budget micro-comedy. The first three episodes of Hings run at just 5 minutes, but McQueer's skew-whiff vision of Glasgow culture and the show's vivid performances make them a cut above comedy sketches.
The adaptations don't always do justice to McQueer's writing. The scatological twist of Night Bus, for example, is gut-busting on the page, but it doesn't quite have the same shock factor on screen, even with the addition of some semi-digested sweetcorn. The episode does make up for its feeble twist with a twinkly David Hayman as a vape-smoking jakey joker, though. The coal black payoff of Sammy's Welks, on the other hand, lands even harder after we witness the grotesque consequences of daft Sammy and his father's exotic dinner choice.
Directors Kris Cummins and David Gray do an admirable job of visualising McQueer's worlds, bringing the pleasingly lo-fi cinematic sensibility they've honed in their own comic shorts. We'd love to see what they can do with McQueer's more ambitious stories, though. Sammy's Welks, Shift Swap and Night Bus all hinge on the coal-black stings in their tails, but Hings has richer treasures. If the five-minute running time isn't obligatory, let's see the raucous female friendship of Bowls or the blissed-out summer love of Lads in the next series.