I am very much looking forward to the new 26-part television drama The Stealthy Chump, which begins next week. Previews have not been available, but a few details have been leaked to the press. Very few, actually – the title, the number of episodes, and the basic premise. I have told you the first two, so let me now move on, wings unfurled, to the third.
The Stealthy Chump centres around a chump who is stealthy. Each week, the chump tries to use his talent for stealthiness in some way, for example creeping unseen through a cemetery after dark, or lurking next to a pillar box on an important thoroughfare, or taking part in a jewel heist. But, as the series title indicates, while he is indubitably stealthy, he is also a chump. Being a chump, each week he manages to sabotage his own stealthiness by making the sort of idiotic decision only a dyed in the wool chump would make. So, when creeping unseen through a cemetery after dark he carries with him a box of fireworks which, through cackhandedness with a box of matches, he manages to ignite all at once, thus drawing attention to himself with lots of sparkly whizzes and bangs. When lurking next to a pillar box on an important thoroughfare, he wears a hat with a giant propeller on it, and the wind picks up and spins the propeller blades around and the stealthy chump finds himself hovering a few feet off the ground, making passers-by gawp. When taking part in a jewel heist, he carries a box of fireworks and wears his propeller-hat at the same time, with predictable results.
I hope I have not given the impression that The Stealthy Chump is a comedy. On the contrary, by all accounts it is the sort of drama invariably described as “gritty”. What this means is that it is set in the north of England where the rainfall is incessant, several characters scowl and swear a lot, and nobody ever smiles – not even the stealthy chump himself.
I suggested above that the title character was dyed in the wool, and this is literally the case. Each week, the stealthy chump wears an item of knitwear, and the dye that has been used to colour the wool has also coloured the stealthy chump from head to toe. As all his knitwear is dyed in brash and gaudy blues and pinks and yellows, the fact that his head is the same colour means he finds it even more difficult to be inconspicuous and stealthy, and is thus even more of a chump.
The Stealthy Chump was filmed entirely on location in a municipal car park. No animals were harmed in the making of the series, except for some ants and beetles and other creepy-crawlies, and an unfortunate trumpeter swan that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.