The Cleaner: A dark British comedy about a crime scene cleaner

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Greg Davies in The Cleaner.
Greg Davies in The Cleaner.
Photo: BritBox
  • Comedian Greg Davies stars in the dark British comedy The Cleaner.
  • It centres on a crime scene cleaner who, after CSI has finished, mops up any grisly remains.
  • "The main thing that drew me to it is the idea of a very normal ordinary person having an extraordinary job," said Davies.

Have you ever thought about who cleans up a crime scene?

A new dark British comedy centres on a crime scene cleaner who mops up after grisly murders and untimely deaths.

The Cleaner – available on BritBox – follows Paul "Wicky" Wickstead, played by Greg Davies (The Inbetweeners). He attends a different "crime scene" in each episode and meets a new character linked to whatever happened.

Greg Davies and Wicky in The Cleaner.
Greg Davies and Wicky in The Cleaner.

Loosely based on the German comedy series Der Tatortreiniger written by Mizzi Meyer, Davies wrote the English adaptation.

"I think the main thing that drew me to it is the idea of a very normal ordinary person having an extraordinary job," said the comedian in a Zoom interview.

"That's what I found funny about it. In the original and our adaptation, Wicky is not a very complex chap in many ways. He likes to go to the pub every Friday, and he has had the same group of five friends for 30 something years.

"He knows what he likes in life, but because he's got this crazy job where he goes and cleans up blood, it means that every day, he's in a strange situation. Often with strange people. They are always weird and wonderful, and it just makes me laugh."

Whenever I write something, I can't help add aspects of my character. There's more that I'm I have more in common with Wicky than I care to think about for too long.

For the Bafta nominee, the most frightening thing about adapting the series was that the German show was a huge hit.

"You'd hate to adapt it, and people don't like it. But so far, certainly, in the UK, people seem to have liked it. So, I can relax a little bit," said Davies.

He and his team spoke to a crime scene cleaner to "make sure we were doing it right".

"It was a fascinating insight into their world. It's hard work; it's throwing down towels until enough blood's been soaked up. But then there are specialist techniques and fluids and things that are used.

"I think we often get presented dramas and comedies where we see the glamour end of crime, don't we? But yeah, you don't see the poor schmuck cleaning stuff up," he added.

I don't think death and blood are the show's star. I think it's the human interactions without sounding like a pretentious character. I do think that's the star of the show, though. It's the humans chatting.

The series has an impressive list of guest stars, from David Mitchell to Helena Bonham Carter, who Davies said he didn't dare imagine would say yes.

Now that he's played a crime scene cleaner, I asked him how he thinks he'd do as one.

"I'd be dreadful! And I have a long reputation among family and friends of being an absolute scumbag when it comes to tidiness. I'm an intrinsically messy human being, and I would be a dreadful crime scene cleaner."

Davies hopes that people who watch the show will find it different, human, and of course funny,

"I think it is; I hope we've achieved what we aim to achieve: that nice balance between something funny and something that other humans recognize. You know, humanity. I think there's humanity in there."


Watch The Cleaner now on BritBox.

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