Hitmen: From Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins’ real-life friendship to the superb supporting cast - 3 reasons to watch the new comedy

Mel and Sue swap the Bake Off tent for balaclavas as they play contract killers in a new sitcom coming soon to Sky One with NOW TV. Discover why you should watch the six-part series now.

By Sophia Moir Published: 25 March 2020 - 2.05pm
Sky UK Hitmen key art
All episodes of Hitmen will be available on Sky One with NOW TV from Wednesday, March 25

There’s never been a better time for some light relief on our TV screens - and a new sitcom starring Mel and Sue may be just the ticket.

Hitmen, starring former Bake Off hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, sees the pair play two best mates trying to make their way in the world with only each other to rely on.

They also just happen to kill people for a living.

From the pair’s real-life friendship influencing the script to the superb supporting cast, we reveal our top three reasons to watch Hitmen on Sky One with NOW TV.

1. Their real-life friendship shines through on screen

It’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles of the two hitmen Fran and Jamie, as Mel and Sue’s famous bubbly TV personalities seem almost moulded with their optimistic assassin characters. 

That goes for the on-screen friendship too - you can tell Mel and Sue have had some influence over the script, with one-liners like: "Can you believe how long we've known each other?" "I won't lie, sometimes it feels like a lot longer!"

It’s refreshing to see an on-screen chemistry that feels so genuine, and that’s because the sitcom is in part based on their decades-long, real life friendship.

Hitmen still Sky UK

The series' creators Joe Parham and Joe Markham confessed that the pair were top of their list for the leading roles - with their chemistry a key factor in the casting process.

They explained: "We were interested in trying to cast a double act, a duo who could bring all their natural chemistry to the roles. Mel and Sue, as a pair who’ve been doing their thing together for decades now, were right at the top of the list. 

“We didn’t really expect them to say yes, but to our surprise they really responded to the script and to the prospect of throwing themselves into something very different from their previous work."

Speaking ahead of the show’s launch, Sue Perkins - who previously appeared solo in the BBC sitcom, Heading Out - revealed that the pair’s friendship in the script was one of the elements that drew her to the project.

“However mad and crazy and stunty and shooty it gets, it’s predicated on friendship. That’s what drives the narrative. It’s also what drove us to want to do it because we’ve been able to slip our time-worn shtick into a sitcom," Sue explained.

“Because Mel and I have been friends for 30 years, it feels like an easy sideways transition into these characters because they have known each other since they were kids.”

Mel - who has also appeared in comedies solo throughout her career - adds that the pair were allowed to tinker with the script, so she hopes there’s a “real flavour of a proper friendship because that’s really what this is about”.

There’s some scenes where you can tell they’ve had at least some influence over the script - their lighthearted banter providing the easy laughs after a contract killing.

Hitmen van Sky UK

The scenes where the pair are talking in their van feel completely natural - you could imagine Mel and Sue having the same discussion about their birthday party plans over a coffee in their own kitchens at home.

The only difference this time is they’ve got a hostage tied up in the back… 

2. It’s got all the action - without excessive violence

Like its predecessors Killing Eve and Barry, Hitmen is a show about assassins that has all the action you’d expect from the genre, while also leaning heavily into comedy.

But it’s safe to say Hitmen doesn’t have the excessive gore that you’d expect from a show about two women murdering people.

The killings aren’t excessively violent - Fran and Jamie are swift and efficient, so there’s no lingering shots of people being tortured, or anything to that effect. 

Speaking about making a sitcom about something that’s actually probably not very funny, the pair talked ‘long and hard’ about the violence of the show.

Mel explains: “We didn’t want to revel in the violence. We didn’t want it to be overly gory or sick or cartoony.”

Hitmen still Sky UK

Sue adds that the fact they’re both efficient killers, rather than bungling assassins, means there isn’t really time to see the victims suffering or struggling - which would make the audience more likely to sympathise with them. 

She says: “We had quite a hard line on the fact that all of the people we kill are mob-related. They are people who deserve it. They sell drugs to kids, for instance. 

“It’s fair to say they are morally very questionable, so you don’t actually miss them when they’re gone, although they are really funny.”

3. Mel and Sue lead a superb supporting cast 

As the creators have said, Mel and Sue are really the perfect casting for the lead roles, but they are joined by a brilliant supporting cast in the sitcom too.

The show's creators called the cameo appearances throughout the series some of their favourite moments in the show.

They explained: "Most episodes are built around a different target who our protagonists have been tasked with killing, and we can’t believe how lucky we were to get people like Sian Clifford, Jason Watkins and Sophia Di Martino in those roles. They all bring something distinctive and hilarious to each episode."

The first cameo is Jason Watkins in episode one. Watkins is one of the UK’s most versatile actors, with comedic roles in Trollied and W1A, but he has leaned heavily towards dramatic territory of late, with roles in The Crown, Line of Duty, and McDonald & Dodds.

In Hitmen, he plays a corrupt lawyer who is the hitmen's target  - but annoyingly the hit coincides with Fran’s birthday.

As a result, Jamie insists on celebrating in the van with the lawyer who – despite his impending doom, being held hostage with a bag over his head – is getting increasingly enthusiastic for Fran’s birthday celebrations.

Hitmen Jason Watkins Sky UK

Watkins demonstrates his comedic skills to full effect in the role, reluctantly playing charades with the two hitmen while being seconds away from death - and demanding After Eight McFlurries while being held hostage.

We also meet the creator of another Sky One sitcom in the first episode in the form of Intelligence writer Nick Mohammed. But probably not how you’re used to seeing him...

Mohammed’s character is dressed as a human spider, literally in head-to-toe latex - eight fake legs and all. Mohamed leans into physical comedy as he dances impractically to Sylvester’s disco song You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) in full spider costume.

We also meet rival hitmen Liz and Charles (Tonya Cornelisse and comedian Asim Chaudhry), who keep popping up to humiliate the pair by bailing them out of their latest scrape.

And there’s more to come, with Fleabag’s Sian Clifford playing an bitchy embezzling accountant who Fran and Jamie have to try and extract information from.

Now that’s a performance we can’t wait to see!

Watch the Hitmen trailer

All episodes of Hitmen will be available on Sky One with NOW TV from Wednesday, March 25.

Watch Hitmen with the NOW TV Entertainment Pass.