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Mamma Mia! writer brings some Bristolicious lushness to BBC Three

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Dana Stevens | 14:52 UK time, Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Only one day to go until we spoil you rotten with an exclusive first look at two of our brand new drama pilots, Stanley Park and Dappers. Yesterday the writer of Stanley Park,Leo Richardson shared his thoughts of turning his stage play into a TV show, and today it's the turn of Dappers writer Catherine Johnson.
Catherine wrote the hugely successful musical Mamma Mia! that went on to become an international blockbuster film. In fact it was the highest grossing British film ever.


In Dappers, the action isn't set in sun soaked Greece but in the rainy reality of the West Country city of Bristol. Being Human's Lenora Crichlow and upcoming actress Ty Glaser star as Faye and Ashley, two single mums and best friends who are trying to make ends meet while living in a housing association property in the posh part of town. Catherine Johnson told us more about the drama...

The show came about because I'd always wanted to write something that was closer to home than anything I'd written before. So in a way it is like a signature series, like Shameless is for Paul Abbott. I wanted to write about living in a housing association flat and being a single parent, but I wanted to do it in a way that wasn't grim and all about poverty. The idea of doing it as a comedy drama, very much in the mould of Gavin and Stacey, really appealed to me.

When I first moved to Bristol I lived in a housing association flat, I had two small kids and I was a single parent for a while. Those elements are absolutely reflected in the show. I'm not using any direct lifts, so no-one who knows me need be worried! What I really wanted to put across was the fun we had. There were a lot of us single mums living in close proximity and we all looked out for each other. We had such a good laugh which really got us through. Everyone was so ambitious as well; people were constantly coming up with plans to make life better. It was hard being a single parent because we were demonised as everything that was wrong with society - and now all these years later, we still are!

The idea of young mums who are quite happy to sit around watching Jeremy Kyle all day and doing nothing has never been my experience at all from being in a very similar situation. Everybody wants to do something to make their kids proud of them and that's what really motivates Faye and Ashley - they want to do the best for Angel and Daisy. Week by week they find enterprising ways to fulfil their ambitions.

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Dappers is very specifically about Bristol. When you've lived somewhere for a long time, it's hard to sum up the character of a place, but with Bristol I think the specific sense of humour and way of life is underrepresented on TV. People from outside of the West Country sometimes wrongly assume that Bristolians are a bit slow on the uptake, and don't understand that it is a very dry, Bristolian sense of humour. I just want to hear the voices and see that way of life on TV a bit more. It's not as frenetic as London, but it's equally as creative and interesting; it's just that we don't make a big fat fuss about it! There seems to have been a sense that people don't want to see Bristol, but personally I really do. But I'm the sort of person that gets excited at any glimpse of a particular location that I recognise in Casualty!

It's fair to say that my experiences on Dappers were quite different to the time I had on Mamma Mia! The weather alone was massively different - it was horrible here! But the main difference was really that I spent most of the time on Mamma Mia! sitting in tavernas, eating Greek salad and dipping my feet in the sea. Whereas on this I was huddled over a monitor with as many clothes on as I could manage, with my feet getting wet and cold from the snow and rain! I couldn't think about being on a Greek island when I was filming this as I'd have burst into tears! There was the same sort of sense of something magical taking place on both projects, but maybe I appreciated the amount of work that the cast and crew put in when I was actually next to them, rather than sitting drinking beer while they were all off filming somewhere!

Catherine Johnson is the writer of Dappers.

You can watch Dappers and our other drama pilot Stanley Park on the blog from tomorrow and on TV on Thursday 10th June from 9pm.

Once you're watched the new shows we want to know what you think of them so don't forget to leave us comments with your reactions.

You can also watch our first drama pilot Pulse online now or on BBC Three tomorrow, Thursday 3rd June at 9pm.

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    Enjoyed the pilot as I live in Bristol. It is good to see something about Bristolians. I hope it might be made into a series and I will definitely be watching. Good luck to the cast and I look forward to seeing more!

  • Comment number 2.

    dappers is a lovely bit of ole brizzle humour!
    its tv entertainment at its best funny,light hearted but still has issues of real life... something we can all relate to... eyes ben thar.
    i hope we get to see loads more of dappers... cant waite.... ets best mind.

  • Comment number 3.

    stanley park is fantastic! i saw sh*tm*x, and it is lovely to see all the characters again - the new ones only add to the fun and games. would love to see what comes next! :)

  • Comment number 4.

    Enjoying dappers and agree its nice to see the west country represented on tv. As a born and bred bristolian I'm not totally convinced by the accents mind but good effort! Like the take on the name - I'm guessing dappers is a take on daps.

  • Comment number 5.

    Dappers was excellent!...
    The whole cast was good, but Lenora Critchlow was brilliant.

  • Comment number 6.

    The best bit of dapper was the offer at the end to comment and further realisation that it was a pilot which had a chance of being stopped. Whilst your idea is welcomed,you will not remove any suggestion of slowness in the average bristolian with such awful examples of the accent. I think a little longer down town is needed before you try to represent 'em hey. Have all the voice coaches recently gentrified BBC Bristol?

  • Comment number 7.

    Dappers... Wonderful, great cast... Very interested to find out more

  • Comment number 8.

    Me and my partner just watched Dappers and loved it, i really do hope they make more as it is such a shame it is just one episode.

    Rich and Sam

  • Comment number 9.

    i have just watched the pilot of "dappers". it was spoilt by the actors over exagerrating the bristol accent which myself and my wife found very annoying throughout!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! otherwise it was ok apart frpm a weak story line. ooooo arrrrrr

  • Comment number 10.

    Having watched "dappers". which I enjoyed my only complaint would be Lenora Crichlow rubbish Bristol accent. We do have good actors in Bristol that could be used.

  • Comment number 11.

    It was a little bit silly for me. And the humour wasn't as clever as Gavin and Stacey (your example). And I find it hard to root for a couple of women who steal/sell dogs.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dappers was brilliant. Please make more!!

  • Comment number 13.

    Being a proud Bristolian I found this programme v. frustrating. The accents were totally over the top and not believable which in my opinion, ruined it completely. I was looking forward to watching this but don't think I'll bother again. I don't understand how they can get it so wrong myself, as someone else said, there are plenty of Bristolian actors around. Or they could have just used a couple of actresses that can actually pull the accent off.

  • Comment number 14.

    a think u should do a show about young team aka gangs in airdrie

  • Comment number 15.

    Enjoyed the pilot as I live in America. It is good to see something about Bristolians. I hope it might be made into a series and I will definitely be watching. Good luck to the cast and I look forward to seeing more!

  • Comment number 16.

    Dappers, what a cool name for a TV show! Totally funny, sweet and authentic! I found this fresh and it’s great to see something that’s not set in London like a lot of TV shows are. A real quality programme, true to life and wonderfully entertaining. It was well written and I thought the cast were amazing - I liked the characters and the storyline, has an urban feel about it. The kids are great in it and the opening scene very funny and visually funny, rather than just dialogue funny. However the acting was a little wooden in places, but that’s easily improved.


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