The influx of television series based on popular film properties shows no sign of abating with Guy Ritchie’s much-loved Snatch the latest box office hit set to get the box set treatment.
However, the Man From U.N.C.L.E. director would do well to avoid any previous miss-steps here – and that’s not a dig at Madonna or Swept Away for that matter.
No, instead, Ritchie’s warning from history comes in the form of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: The Series.
Arriving in 2000, just two years after the film, the show only ran for seven beleaguered and largely forgettable episodes before disappearing from our screens never to be seen again.
And, in hindsight, it’s easy to see why – it’s basically a slightly more rubbish version of the film.
One of the really annoying things about Lock Stock the series was the way it did away with the titles of the film in favour of increasingly ‘zany’ treatments that showcased the trials and tribulations of the show’s principal cast.
There was the cringewortjy “Lock Stock and a Fistful of Jack and Jills” while the less said about “Lock Stock and a Good Slopping Out” the better.
The opening titles also lacked any of Ritchie’s signature visual flair i.e. they were boring as s***.
Top Gear fans look away now: because what you probably don’t realise is that Lock Stock the series was a Ginger Production – yep, that’s Chris Evans’ television production company.
Not only that, it was the company’s first-ever commission, with Evans serving as executive producer on the show alongside Ritchie and future X-Men and Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn.
To say it went badly would be an understatement.
Chris Baker and Andrew Day were credited with the majority of the writing of the show, five of the seven episodes aired, to be precise. Having found their niche, the pair would reunite a year later to pen the screenplay to Vinnie Jones’ remake of Mean Machine.
They do not appear to have done much since though.
Former Minder scribe Bernard Dempsey also contributed two episodes to the show, which explains some of the tonal changes, while the other writing credits belong to actor Kevin McNally and, most surprisingly of all, Ritchie, though that may have been as a result of his involvement in the original film.
Remember the original boys from the film? A group of lads on the wrong end of one massive con of a high-stakes card game. Well, things are a little different in the series.
This time round the gang of four mates who provide the focal point of the show also happen to run a pub called The Lock (see what they did there?). In a show that also features a fictional prison called HM Nickham, that passes for nuance.
Also, this gang are less innocent young blokes out for a good time and more Trotters Independent traders with each episode seeing them venture out on some get rich quick scheme.
Except with guns, extreme violence (for TV) and occasionally sledgehammers. High japes indeed.
As is often the case with TV crossovers, the main cast step aside with Nick Moran, Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher and Jason Statham all passing up the opportunity to appear in the show. The fools.
In came Mel Sykes ex-husband Daniel Caltagirone, Scott Maslen off Eastenders, Del Synnott who once dated Keira Knightley and Shaun Parkes from Human Traffic.
Solid if unspectacular, you can’t really blame them for what unfolds, with each playing up to their cockney lad characters with aplomb. If only the script hadn’t called for them to be completely unredeemable bell ends…
The ‘Rising Stars’
While the boys do a decent enough job with the so-so cockney-wideboy material they were given, the show is also remarkable for featuring some surprising appearances from a selection of budding actors and stars that should really know better – and no we are not talking about Bradley Walsh.
It would be well over a decade before Game of Thrones arrived on our screens, and in the meantime a jobbing Danish actor by the name of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau managed to find work on the show as Jordi – a character who appeared in two episodes of the show.
He was joined by future Essex favourite Mark Wright who is credited with an appearance as a young version of Maslen’s character. Oddly enough, footage of either is hard to come by.
The undoubted highlight though was Martin Freeman, whose fine turn as drugged-up Dutch DJ Jaap really is a joy to behold. Thank God The Office came along when it did.
Lock Stock: The Series can now be purchased on Amazon for £7.59 new from Amazon or £1.44 second-hand. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.