New to stream: Brian and Charles and The Old Man

Damon Smith


Brian And Charles: David Earl as Brian and Chris Hayward as Charles

BRIAN AND CHARLES (Cert 15, 90 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, available from September 26 on Amazon/BT TV Store/iTunes/Sky Store/TalkTalk TV Store and other download and streaming services, available from October 24 on DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)

Starring: David Earl, Chris Hayward, Louise Brealey, Jamie Michie, Nina Sosanya.

GENEROUSLY bearded outcast Brian (David Earl) lives in a tumbledown cottage in the Welsh countryside.

He repurposes one cow shed as an "inventions pantry" to transform odds and ends into outlandish homemade gadgets and appliances.

Brian's most ambitious project is a 7ft tall robot companion called Charles (Chris Hayward), lovingly fashioned from a discarded mannequin's head and an old washing machine for the automaton's torso.

The mechanical sidekick is blessed with childlike curiosity reminiscent of Johnny Five in Short Circuit.

Inventor and sentient creation become devoted companions on the outskirts of a close-knit community that doesn't always treat eccentrics with kindness.

When Brian pursues romance with neighbour Hazel (Louise Brealey), the emotional tug of war between Hazel and Charles for the inventor's attention creates friction.

Brian And Charles is a sweet, sincere and life-affirming ode to the square pegs, who don't care about fitting neatly into round holes.

Expanded from a 12-minute short released in 2017, director Jim Archer's film employs a fly-on-the-wall mockumentary format to intrude on delightfully mismatched characters as they go about their day-to-day lives.

The odd couple comedy kindles dramatic tension by hard-wiring Charles with a desire to fly the nest and explore new horizons.

When the possibility of separation looms large, the lump in our throats is sizeable.

Predictably, Brian wants to protect his charmingly naive creation from the cruelty and intolerance that run rife in "a big perilous world" beyond the fences that border their remote farm.

Someone or something has to give.

Thankfully, the quality of Earl and Hayward's script doesn't give an inch.

Rating: 4/5


The Old Man: Jeff Bridges as Dan Chase

THE OLD MAN (7 episodes, starts streaming from September 28 exclusively on Disney+, Thriller/Action)

OSCAR winner Jeff Bridges takes the title role in a seven-part espionage thriller based on the best-selling novel of the same title by Thomas Perry.

Former CIA operative Dan Chase (Jeff Bridges) escapes the agency's clutches and lives peacefully off the grid.

An attempted assassination forces Dan out of hiding and the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence, Harold Harper (John Lithgow), leads the manhunt, aided by his protegee Angela Adams (Alia Shawkat) and CIA Special Agent Raymond Waters (EJ Bonilla).

Dan repeatedly avoids capture, frustrating the authorities, so they mobilise highly trained special ops contractor Julian Carson (Gbenga Akinnagbe) to halt the rogue fugitive, dead or alive.

Zoe McDonald (Amy Brenneman) rents a room to Dan, oblivious to the truth about her new tenant, and she becomes entangled in his fight for survival.

The first two episodes of The Old Man shoot to kill on Disney+ this week and further instalments take flight on Wednesdays.