'The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin' Wants to Steal Your Heart, But Can’t Quite Pull Off the Heist

Hugh Bonneville and Noel Fielding as Jonathan Wilde and Dick Turpin. Turpin is wearing a nun's uniform

Hugh Bonneville and Noel Fielding as Jonathan Wilde and Dick Turpin in The Completely Made Up Adventures of Dick Turpin.

Apple TV+

The newest streaming comedy that wants to steal your heart (literally) is The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, not to be confused with any of the many preceding shows and movies that share its eponymous origins. Of course, The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin isn’t wholly made-up. American viewers may be less familiar with the titular character, but he was a real highwayman in England in the 18th century. Aside from some of the elements of his origin story, though (he really was the son of a butcher and lived in Essex), the rest of the series is heavily fictionalized. This is far from the first dramatization of his life, but it may well be the funniest. 

The six-episode comedy series follows Turpin (Noel Fielding), a hapless accidental highwayman, as he attempts to make it big in the robbery business. He picks up friends and foes along the way and has run-ins with ghosts, warlocks, witches, and one particularly memorable true crime writer. 

Turpin is played with vigor by comedian Noel Fielding, who will be best known to American audiences as a host of The Great British Baking Show. It’s high time Fielding got his own comedy series after dominating British panel game shows, stand-up, and hosting gigs for decades. Dick Turpin is a sandbox made for Fielding to play in — which he does delightfully. 

The character of Dick is so recognizably Fielding, even costumed to fit Fielding’s signature androgynous, goth style. It often requires a heavy suspension of disbelief to remember that this flashy fellow is, in fact, Dick Turpin and not Fielding doing a bit. But that’s not to knock Fielding’s acting chops; his charming bravado and comedic delivery carry nearly every scene. Even if this show is just a vehicle for him to goof around, it’s well deserved. 

The show will undoubtedly be compared to another silly, anachronistic historical comedy with a heart of gold: Our Flag Means Death. Sadly, for anyone mourning Our Flag’s cancellation, this is not the heir to the “murderous but sweet gay criminals” crown. Dick Turpin, at best, most resembles the weak “filler” episodes of Our Flag’s second season. However, considering prestige TV’s tendency to eschew comedy for overserious drama, it’s still a breath of fresh air.

After the success of similar shows (aside from the aforementioned Our Flag Means Death, the Brit-ish What We Do in the Shadows also comes to mind), the tropes, character archetypes, and beats of the comedy are overly predictable. Most running gags are repeated one too many times, and for a show with the name “Dick” in the title, it could have been a touch more creative with its innuendos.

Dick Turpin (Noel Fielding) and his gang of outlaws in 'The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin'

Dick Turpin (Noel Fielding) and his gang of outlaws in The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin

Apple TV+

Among the show’s unexpected highlights are its costumes, as Turpin’s signature style seems to spread among the other highwaymen like a frilly, dazzling plague. The soundtrack also delights with a funky, synth-y beat that the show really could have leaned into more. Aside from Fielding’s performance, Ellie White is a scene-stealer as Nell, a tough but socially awkward female highwayman (Highwaywoman? Highwoman?) in Dick Turpin’s gang. 

The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin seems to lack a certain earnestness or depth. Maybe it’s asking too much to expect depth from a comedy, but is it such a crime to want more? There are a few sweet moments, but not enough character backstory to make them land. That said, in a streaming landscape dominated by Very Serious Limited Series, it feels like a good sign that a simple, wacky comedy can still work its way in as a palate cleanser.

The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin is streaming now on Apple TV+, with more episodes to come through the end of March 2024.

Author Emma O’Neill-Dietel

Emma O’Neill-Dietel is a writer, educator, and history nerd from Philadelphia, PA. She eats, sleeps, and breathes Doctor Who but has been known to enjoy other British TV and movies too. She may love British media but don’t get it twisted; she’s Irish through and through. Follow her on Threads: @emmaod22.

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