Cult TV Essentials

Cult TV Essentials: No Heroics

No Heroics was a British superhero-comedy television series, which began on 18th September 2008 and aired six episodes. It is set in modern-day Britain, in a world similar to ours but “With one small difference: there are superheroes.” The superheroes of the world (colloquially referred to as “capes”) are primarily modelled after those of the Golden Age of Comic Books, usually clad in brightly coloured outfits consisting of skin-tight materials such as Lycra or spandex.

The presence of superheroes in the world is commonplace, arriving not only to save people or avert disaster but also carrying out everyday tasks such as grocery shopping or taking a smoke break, all while in full costume. Through the series we follow four heroes. These are The Hotness aka Alex (played by Nicholas Burns) who controls heat and is desperate to be famous for saving the world (or at least someone), but somehow Excelsor always manages to save the day before him. His main work comes in winter when he fills in for the heaters at old peoples homes when they are broken.

Electroclash aka Sarah (played by Claire Keelan) can control machines with her voice. She would rather steal a pack of cigarettes from a machine than help the ‘normal’ world with her power. Seen as the most rock ‘n’ roll of the bunch, Sarah is the daughter of famous superheroes “Rampart” and “Velvet Veil”, described by Sarah as the “Torvill and Dean” or the “Richard and Judy” of the superhero world. She is Alex’s on-off love interest, having broken up with him some time prior to the start of the series. Sarah was a member of the short lived superhero team known as Lady Trouble, alongside She-Force aka Jenny (played by Rebekah Staton). She-Force has super-strength and is the third strongest female in the world, but doesn’t feel comfortable being a superhero. She would much rather spend her days at her desk, waiting for Mr Right to come along. Socially awkward, Jenny revels in having a secret identity as an office worker, a charade her friends find pointless. 

Finally we have Timebomb aka Don (played by James Lance). Timebomb is a gay Spanish man who has the power to see sixty seconds into the future and is an expert in torture. Timebomb only uses his abilities to his friends’ advantage, due to his retirement only taking on a few jobs to keep the cash rolling. He is also an ex-drug addict and frequently engages in sex with strangers.

Through the series we learn a lot about being a superhero in their world including sidekick taxes – all superheroes have to pay sidekick taxes even if they choose not to have a sidekick, these taxes are to compensate those affected when a sidekick makes a mistake such as blowing up a post office; the SPA – the Super Powers Authority deals with abuse of powers cases, dealing out punishments including community service, such as mentoring an unruly sidekick; the Anti-cape leagues – parallel to neo-Nazi groups in the real world, anti-cape groups (such as the Cape Haters of Great Britain) are prejudiced against superheroes and tell “capeist” jokes, and sometimes go around “cape-bashing;” Cape rape – a term similar to Date rape, referring to superhero rapists.

Our heroes hang out at The Fortress a bar for superheroes that has three fundamental rules: “No Masks, No Powers and No Heroics” whilst the supervillains hang out at The Stronghold. Norse Dave (played by Steve Spiers) is the bartender for the Fortress. He fought in the Falklands War, alongside Rampart, superhero who sports injuries from the Gulf conflict, his powers are unknown but Viking related. Thundermonkey aka Simon (played by Jim Howick) is the bouncer at the Fortress. It is his job to ensure that the regulars played by the rules. The regulars treat him as a bit of a joke, particularly Sarah. He is allowed to use his powers in the fortress as part of his job. His power involved summoning and commanding monkeys; the monkeys do not simply appear, they have to physically travel from wherever they happened to be. Given that they took so long to respond to his calls, they were never seen on screen (although their coffins were present at Simon’s funeral), even after relocating their home reduced their response time from 2 hours to 45 minutes. After Sarah taunted him about being a crap superhero he picked a fight with Slicefist (a known supervillain with razor blade fingers), both he and his monkeys were killed in the resulting fight.

Devlin aka Excelsor (played by Patrick Baladi) is the most successful cape in the United Kingdom; he is a “Rock Star” within the superhero world, with a high public profile and numerous commercial endorsement deals. Due to his immense success Devlin’s attitude is highly egotistical and selfish, and he takes pleasure in reminding Alex and the other “lesser” superheroes of his superiority at every opportunity, often by bullying Alex. Devlin has a wide array of powers, which include but are not limited to: flight, laser eye beams, X-ray vision, super speed, force field creation and manipulation, super sensitive hearing, and mind control abilities.

Doomball (played by Oliver Maltman) is the main villain of the show and wears a huge black ball-like helmet over his head with a small slit to see out of. He wishes to be taken more seriously as a villain; in this regard he could be considered an evil foil to Alex, though his actual powers are unknown. He was captured and tortured by Don in episode 6, revealing the location of the villains’ stronghold to enable the heroes to avenge the death of Simon.

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