'The Cleaner' Season 2 BritBox Review: Stream It Or Skip It?


HomeHome / Blog / 'The Cleaner' Season 2 BritBox Review: Stream It Or Skip It?

Apr 13, 2023

'The Cleaner' Season 2 BritBox Review: Stream It Or Skip It?

We enjoyed the first season of The Cleaner, which debuted in 2021, because it

We enjoyed the first season of The Cleaner, which debuted in 2021, because it wasn't just funny, but it was a sneaky anthology about some deep issues, told through the perspective of a crime scene cleaner who was good at his job but also liked to hit the pub for darts and curry. After the requisite holiday special, Greg Davies is back for another round of soaking up blood and other effluviants while dealing with some seriously unhinged people.

Opening Shot: Paul "Wicky" Wickstead (Greg Davies) is driving around in his VW bus-truck, which is full of cleaning equipment. He's listening to his SatNav, which is taking him every which way but to where he has to stop for the job.

The Gist: Wicky has been sent to this town with wacky roads to clean up what looks like goose blood on a statue in the center of town. But he then finds out he can only park a mile away; the town center has been turned over to pedestrians thanks to the efforts of a town council member named Him (Susannah Fielding).

When Wicky sees the statue, he's flabbergasted. "It's a bollock!" he exclaims. Indeed, it does look like a large brass testicle, but Him says it's a chickpea, which the town imported for two years in the late 1800s. It's there instead of the previous statue, of one of the town's founders, because the council determined that his presence was problematic.

Seems like it's a simple job, which should get Wicky back to his local pub in time to play darts. But then an older lady, Lucille (Zoë Wanamaker), shows up, with goose blood on her tweed skirt. She more or less admits she put the blood there, in protest of not only Him's efforts to gut the town of all personality but of the removal of the statue.

She pours out Wicky's cleaning fluids, prompting him to go back to the truck a mile away, where he finds out his cargo has been confiscated, a violation of the public safety rules. He manages to find them in the storage room, manned by Vince (Louis Emerick), the only person in the town who makes any kind of sense. But things go from bad to worse when Wicky returns to see that Lucille has chained herself to the brass bollock.

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Season 2 of The Cleaner pretty much continues the format of Season 1, which is essentially an anthology where Davies is at the center of every story. The mundanity of what he does reminds us of the Peacock series Hit Men, but it also seems to be a funny take on an age-old format seen in shows as diverse as Highway To Heaven to Columbo.

Our Take: As with season 1, the episodes of The Cleaner, which Davies based on the series Der Tatortreiniger, we see Wicky cleaning up some pretty grody messes, but that's not what each episode is about. He usually gets derailed from his task by people who have some deep-seated issue related to the mess he's cleaning up. As he deals with those people, his own insecurities come out, whether it's his getting defensive about his chosen career or how he rethinks his position on something.

In the case of the bloody bollock statue, he has to consider the idea of whether a town should bury its sketchy past or leave it open for people to know about where they came from. It's also about the strangulation of a town's personality via rampaging bureaucracy, outsourcing of services, and aggressive gentrification. Of course, that's all being considered in between fat jokes (told by Wicky at his own expense), a mop fight and the ill-advised decision of the women to ask Vince about the statue because he's Black.

In the second episode, Wicky treks to a small community theater to clean up the aftermath of a fight during a show by male strippers called "The Donkey Boyz." There, he meets Strazzamo (John MacMillan), who gave up a finance job to be a clown, but an artistic clown, who studied mime in France. He can't afford an espresso, but he has his art, by gum, and he challenges Wicky to think about the dreams he had that he never followed up on. Wicky almost buys into it until he catches Strazzamo's act.

What Davies brings to the show, both as its star and one of its writers, is a depth that makes Wicky more than just a working stiff who just wants to finish his day's work then tuck into a pint at his local. He's more worldly than he lets on, is fiercely proud of his job and how good he is at it, and has no problem standing his ground as well as seeing the point of view of others. Davies and the writing staff give him all of this depth through these self-contained stories that pack big laughs and complete, thought-provoking stories in their 28 minutes.

Sex and Skin: None, and that's fine with us.

Parting Shot: Wicky finds a solution for the statue of the slave-owning town founder that no one seems to want, as well as the nonsensical chickpea that replaced it.

Sleeper Star: We’d like to know who sculpted that massive chickpea and shake their hand. They made it look like both a giant chickpea and a giant testicle.

Most Pilot-y Line: When Him tells Wicky that the founder used slaves, he replies, "Hey, hey, we don't say ‘slave’! We say ‘fellow’?"

Our Call: STREAM IT. The Cleaner continues what it did in its first season, by being both funny and poignant, with Wicky constantly running into interesting situations while doing his very unusual job.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn't kid himself: he's a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.

Opening Shot: The Gist: What Shows Will It Remind You Of? . Our Take: Sex and Skin: Parting Shot: Sleeper Star: Most Pilot-y Line: Our Call: