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Good Omens: Tennant and Sheen sparkle in Neil Gaiman adaptation


Crowley (David Tennant) & Aziraphale (Michael Sheen)

Whatever it is, stop delaying. Stop putting it off. Get on with it or risk it never happening. That's a lesson to be drawn from Good Omens. It's only now, days before the end of days, that David Tennant and Michael Sheen strike up a whiz-bang screen partnership, a pairing so perfect casting directors in the past must have thought about giving it a try, but never right then. What a shame we have mere hours until Armageddon to savour their crackle.


Procrastination, intentional or not, is a theme which is woven throughout Good Omens and the book's own mythology. While demon Crowley (Tennant) and angel Aziraphale (Sheen) strive to delay the coming of the Antichrist so their comfortable lives on Earth aren't wrecked, Good Omens is a project which has taken nearly thirty years to reach a screen. For all the frustration of near misses (in the case of a rumoured film version with Johnny Depp as Crowley, a very near miss) and that co-author Terry Pratchett wouldn't live to see its transfer, the partnership of Tennant and Sheen has been worth waiting for, their arrival having the quality of a prediction by Agnes Nutter, whose unerring prophecies in the story all come to pass.


Destiny would not be nudged. Sheen tells how he was set to play Crowley but was convinced Aziraphale would be a better fit; during a dinner with Neil Gaiman, Sheen was unsure how to relay his thoughts until, to his relief, Gaiman said he believed Sheen should switch roles. His comic subtlety as a lightly-corrupted angel who would park on a single-yellow ten minutes before restrictions are lifted, and who wouldn't judge someone who calls Jaffa Cakes biscuits, is a splendid companion piece to his monstrous scenery-and-co-star-chewing lawyer Roland Blum in The Good Fight.


As Aziraphale is unthinkable without Sheen, so too Crowley for Tennant; his louche, easy charisma is redolent of his Casanova rather than Kilgrave from Jessica Jones. Draped in muted tones as if he's had a personal shopper at All Saints, then left without paying a penny and still been applauded out of the door, Tennant's cocksure Crowley is never too much or too swaggerlicious - centuries on Earth mean he too is prone to self-doubt and grasps the value of a friendship. Or, at least, a jovial rivalry with an immortal enemy who likes a drink.


Those thirty years of development heck, the book waiting for Sheen and Tennant to arrive, also meant the screen format most suited to the story would develop (also predicted by Agnes). A film version would have required austerity-level cuts to story and character; the grand budget of this mini-series allows space for the whimsical backstories of multiple characters to roam. There are diversions in this race to the very end, but why rush after all this time? Life - as is made abundantly clear in the depictions of corporate heaven and prison corridor hell - is there to be drunk deeply. Stop putting it off.

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