The Cleaner is one for city’s council to watch - Kevin Buckle

Greg Davies as Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead in  The CleanerGreg Davies as Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead in  The Cleaner
Greg Davies as Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead in The Cleaner
I don’t watch much television these days but I do enjoy Greg Davies in The Cleaner, a comedy about a crime scene cleaner – and last week’s episode was one City of Edinburgh Council may well want to watch.

Wicky, played by Davies, is called out by the council on a more unusual job to clean a statue covered in goose blood. However he can’t get anywhere near the statue as it turns out there has been a £3 million pedestrian re-routing system installed so he finds his way blocked by bollards.

Eventually he stops and speaks to the only council worker who actually seems to be at work and appears to be a caretaker of sorts. He tells Wicky he will need to speak to the department who deal with the out-sourced access team and they are all “agile workers” who will be at home.

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He is then met by a councillor who introduces herself as being in charge of Urban Redevelopment with a culture brief. She insists he leaves his van and spends 15 minutes walking the rest of the way. She explains it is a vehicle-free area and claims that people like an emission free zone. Wicky points out there are no people and wonders what the shopkeepers think.

The councillor discloses that an offensive statue had been removed and replaced with a focus group approved and fully budgeted statue which has now been vandalised. When Wicky finally reaches the statue he declares it looks like a “large bollock”. It turns out it is a chickpea celebrating the town being a hub for chickpeas between 1856 and 1858.

The councillor then leaves as she has to chair a planning sub-committee. It turns out that the original statue was of a Colonel Ryce Dennison, a colonial governor and “under-rated watercolour landscape painter”, and it was a relative still at the scene who threw the goose blood. The great-great-great niece pours away Wicky’s cleaning chemicals so he returns to his van only to find out replacements have been impounded by the health and safety team who are now away on a course.

He interrupts the council meeting just as the councillor is looking for ideas to regenerate the city centre as a recently approved supermarket has taken business away. The first suggestion is a vegan cheesemonger. It transpires the colonel used slave labour and when Wicky asks if the people of the town were consulted both women agree they should ask the caretaker for his thoughts as he is “black”.

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The caretaker’s main memory is of using the statue as a climbing frame as a kid and though happy for it to be taken down does not agree with spending £130,000 on a replacement. He is then questioned as to why he didn’t sign the petition against the new statue or attend the consultation meeting. He explains in his busy life having such strong opinions is a luxury.

The statue is finally cleaned but as Wicky is leaving two men turn up to take the old statue away. The men are confused but Wicky tells them he is from the council, the new statue is the one they want, and they haven’t seen him before because he is an agile worker.

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