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British release poster
Directed by Sean Foley
Written by
Distributed by StudioCanal
Release date
  • 9 October 2016 (2016-10-09) (London Film Festival)
  • 5 May 2017 (2017-05-05)
Running time
89 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Mindhorn is a British 2016 independent comedy film directed by Sean Foley,[2] written by Julian Barratt and Simon Farnaby, and produced by Steve Coogan and Ridley Scott. It stars Barratt, Farnaby, Essie Davis, Russell Tovey and Andrea Riseborough, with cameo appearances by Kenneth Branagh and Simon Callow as themselves.[3] Barratt plays Richard Thorncroft, a faded television actor drawn into negotiations with a criminal who believes his character Detective Mindhorn is real.


Actor Richard Thorncroft is best known for playing Detective Bruce Mindhorn, a detective with the power to see truth with a cybernetic eye, in the cult 1980s television show Mindhorn. Twenty-five years later, on the Isle of Man, where Mindhorn was filmed, police hunt an escaped lunatic, Paul Melly, wanted for murder. Melly says he will only speak to Detective Mindhorn, not realising that Mindhorn is fictional.

Richard is now washed up and reduced to making a living by advertising embarrassing products. Hoping to boost his career, he returns to the Isle of Man to help the case but irritates the local constabulary with his arrogance. Melly's scheduled call to the police station leads to a meeting with Melly, culminating in Melly's arrest. Richard sets out to reconnect with his Mindhorn co-star Patricia, but discovers she is living with his former stuntman Clive, and Patricia and Richard's estranged daughter Jasmine. Another of his Mindhorn co-stars, Pete Eastman, now stars in a successful spin-off series. Dejected, Richard is detained after a night of drunken antisocial behaviour and dropped by his agent.

Waiting for his ferry home, Richard opens fan mail, including a videotape revealing that the murder was committed by the mayor. His former manager Moncrieff proposes using the tape to blackmail the mayor, but appears to concede after a brief altercation. Richard meets Melly and the police, but discovers that Moncrieff has swapped the tape. Moncrieff confronts the mayor but is shot by DC Baines, who is part of the conspiracy.

Melly and Richard escape to Melly's secret lair, which is filled with Mindhorn merchandise and homemade espionage equipment. Melly equips Richard with an extensive Mindhorn outfit and explains that he has a copy of the tape in the car used in Mindhorn. Richard and Melly escape Baines when Melly throws defective Mindhorn merchandise in her face.

At Patricia and Clive's house, Richard learns that Clive has been hiding letters to Patricia from Richard. Richard, Melly and Patricia hijack the car from a parade, and are pursued by DC Baines to the beach. Richard discovers the tape is a plasticine model and Melly is hit by a bullet. Richard captures a confession from Baines on an old Mindhorn recorder belt that Melly had insisted he wear. Richard rescues Jasmine from Baines as she fires at him; realizing too late the gun she was firing was not loaded with blanks as he thought, Richard collapses. He survives, Baines and the mayor are jailed, and Melly is found alive in his lair.



Mindhorn went on general release in the UK on 5 May 2017,[4] and was screened at the Belfast Film Festival.[5] Netflix acquired the rights to broadcast in all territories outside of the UK for 12 May 2017.[6] The film was nominated for a best debut screen writer award by the British Independent Film Awards in 2017.[7]


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