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British release poster
Directed bySean Foley
Written by
Distributed byStudioCanal
Release date
  • 9 October 2016 (2016-10-09) (London Film Festival)
  • 5 May 2017 (2017-05-05)
Running time
89 minutes[1]
CountryUnited Kingdom

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 with her daughter Jasmine. Another of his Mindhorn co-stars, Pete Eastman, now stars in a successful spin-off series. Pete invites Richard around with the promise of a DVD release of Mindhorn, only to mock him for his failings. Dejected, Richard takes cocaine with his former manager Moncrieff, and is detained after a night of drunken antisocial behaviour and dropped by his agent.

Waiting for his ferry home, Richard opens fan mail, and realises that the letters are from Melly. They include a videotape revealing that the murder was committed by the mayor. Richard shows the tape to Moncrieff, who proposes using the tape to blackmail the mayor. He refuses to give the tape back, but appears to concede after a brief altercation. Richard meets Melly and the police, but discovers that Moncrieff has swapped the tape. Moncrieff independently attempts to blackmail the mayor but is killed by DC Baines, who is the mayor's niece and 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 classic car used in Mindhorn. Richard and Melly escape Baines when Melly throws defective Mindhorn-brand truth powder merchandise in her face.

At Patricia and Clive's house, Richard finds that Clive has taken the classic car to the local parade. Patricia learns that Clive has been hiding letters to Patricia from Richard. Richard, Melly and Patricia intervene in the parade to retrieve the car, and are pursued by DC Baines to the beach. Richard discovers the second "copy" of the tape is just a plasticine model Melly made. Melly is hit by a bullet and appears to die. Baines arrives, and appears to kill Patricia and injure Richard. Richard captures a confession from Baines on an old Mindhorn recorder belt that Melly had insisted he wear. The police arrive and Richard and Pat get up, having tricked Baines into using a gun filled with blanks. They prove Baines' and the mayor's roles in the murders with the tape. Richard then rescues Jasmine from Baines as she fires at him using a different gun, which he believes is also full of blanks. When told that he actually just narrowly dodge several live rounds, Richard collapses. After he recovers in hospital, Richard and Patricia get back together, Baines and the mayor are jailed, and Melly is found alive in his lair.


  • Julian Barratt as Richard Thorncroft, a washed up actor famous for playing Detective Bruce Mindhorn in the cult 80's show Mindhorn.
  • Essie Davis as Patricia Deville, Richard's former co-star and lover turned local journalist on the Isle of Man.
  • Kenneth Branagh as Himself
  • Andrea Riseborough as Detective Sergeant Elena Baines, the lead investigator in the murder.
  • Steve Coogan as Peter Eastman, a fellow actor who played Thorncroft's doctor assistant Windjammer, which since had a successful spin-off.
  • Russell Tovey as Paul Melly, a 32-year old whose parent died in an accident when he was 9. Melly was watching an episode of Mindhorn at the time of the deaths, and has since gone insane and believes that Mindhorn is real.
  • Richard McCabe as Geoffrey Moncrieff, Richard's party-loving former manager and PR man, now a borderline drug-addict living in a caravan.
  • Harriet Walter as Richard's agent, who is reluctant to give him serious acting roles.
  • Jessica Barden as Jasmine, Patricia's twenty year old daughter. It is revealed that Jasmine is Peter Eastman's estranged daughter, although Richard mistakenly comes to believe that she is his.
  • Simon Callow as himself
  • Simon Farnaby as Clive Parnevik, Richard's stunt double on Mindhorn and later Patricia's lover.
  • Nicholas Farrell as the Mayor of the Isle of Man.
  • David Schofield as Chief Inspector Derek Newsome.
  • Tony Way as Dad With Newspaper


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]


  1. ^ "MINDHORN (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 17 February 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  2. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (10 October 2016). "Mindhorn review – Mighty Boosh creator's funny, farcical nightmare".
  3. ^ "'Mindhorn': Film Review – London Film Festival 2016".
  4. ^ Guide, The (21 April 2017). "The 10 best things to do this week: Machynlleth festival, Arca and Mindhorn" – via The Guardian.
  5. ^ Roy, David. "True believer: Julian Barratt on bringing Mindhorn to the Belfast Film Festival tonight".
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (28 March 2017). "Netflix Has Eye For Brit Comedy 'Mindhorn'; Takes Rights Outside UK".
  7. ^ "Mindhorn". IMDb. IMDb.

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