Starter for 10 – BBC2

Geeky James McAvoy leaves his pals behind in Essex when he gets a place at Bristol University in 1985

Geeky James McAvoy leaves his pals behind in Essex when he gets a place at Bristol University in 1985.

Compared to all the rich people he meets there, he’s still got a few rough edges, but he seems to be heading in the right direction when he falls for posh Alice Eve and gets himself onto Bristol’s team for TV quiz University Challenge.

This subtle comedy manages the rare feat of celebrating its young hero’s innocence without turning him into a cardboard figure of fun. We’re with him all the way as he has a hilarious encounter with Eve’s parents (Charles Dance and Lindsay Duncan) and discovers a few home truths about the important things in life.

McAvoy is hugely likeable and the script is a model of economy: every line’s a winner and every well-observed moment hits the spot. Rebecca Hall also shines as a quirky fellow student, Mark Gatiss is amusing as quiz show host Bamber Gascoigne, Benedict Cumberbatch gets a great early role as the stuck-up team captain and Catherine Tate, Dominic Cooper and James Corden also pop up in support.