Micromen Review: PC Wars

October 7, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Reviews

tv-stars-4MICROMEN: Thursday 8th October, 9pm, BBC4 ALERT ME

A decade before we had Mario and Sonic, we had Sinclair and Acorn – British companies racing to bring us the first home computer at the dawn of the electronic eighties.

These days, the computer market is dominated by ridiculously large American companies but at the tail-end of the seventies, pioneers had no road-map to follow and these rivals went toe-to-toe in a technological race which seemed more cold war than PC.

Micromen is a wittily produced comedy which charts the rivalry of Acorn and Sinclair bosses, Chris Curry (Martin Freeman) and Clive Sinclair (Alexander Armstrong), as they strive to outdo each other during the home computing revolution which kicked-off in the early eighties.

The differences between these two men are fabulously drawn, Freeman is at his calmly understated best and Armstrong carries on like a British Hannibal Lector, mean-spirited and maniacal – if he announced that he was a serial-killer, there wouldn’t have been one raised eyebrow among his cowering staff.

Anyone who is fond of those Pimms commercials (“more tea vicar??) will understand how well he is suited to this larger than life caricature of the tyrannical computer boss. When he loses out on an important contract, the ensuing tirade reminds us of that film about the last days in Hitler’s bunker.

Some of the other characters are more subtle but equally as pleasurable, especially the Austrian entrepreneur who helps Curry break away from his ex-collaborator (“In chess the pawn protects ze king. Are you a pawn Chris or are you a beeger peez??).

As usual in these programmes, the main characters only walk past news-boards on days of monumental historical significance, but since the eighties was such a cheerful decade in recent British history, these references are welcome.

God bless you Mrs Thatcher.

Mass unemployment and social unrest aside, this is a cracking piece of television which is busy enough to keep us entertained for eighty minutes.

Sean Marland