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24 April 2014
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Big Train

The Big Train team in Jockey Safari

Over the chequered history of TV sketch shows, it's hard to think of many with better credentials than this series.

Spawned by the warped minds of Father Ted writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Matthews, its cast have gone on to dominate the 'A' list of top comic actors in Britain.

What would a new comedy now give for a line-up featuring Simon Pegg, Mark Heap, Kevin Eldon, Rebecca Front, Julia Davis and Catherine Tate?

Kevin Eldon and Mark Heap in Big Train

Big Train is probably already little more than a footnote in their individual careers, but that's a shame because together they created one of the freshest and most underrated sketch shows of recent years.

A smattering of returning items peppered the first series (directed by Linehan), including weekly animation 'World Championship Staring', with commentary by BBC legend Barry Davies.

But recurring segments weren't the focus, each show instead remaining consistently unpredictable and juggling a rapid pace with sudden leaps in tone.

It was four years before a second series reached our screens, this time with just Matthews at the helm, but the star performers were back and with them the show's zany mix of the macabre and the surreal (finally answering for us big burning questions like what Ming the Merciless does in his spare time).

Simon Pegg and Mark Heap in Big Train

Big Train stood out not only for its variety, but also for the obvious chemistry between the cast and the notably high production values; deciding to shoot on film gave their movie parodies added punch, whether they were spoofing Hitchcock, Hollywood or French film.

Sandwiched in time between juggernauts The Fast Show and Little Britain, the same fan-base might not have boarded Big Train.

Nevertheless, in steering away from catchphrase comedy and offering plenty of fresh gags each week, it was reliably both funny and original.

Cast

Amelia Bullmore
performer
Julia Davis
performer
Kevin Eldon
performer
Rebecca Front
performer
Simon Pegg
performer
Catherine Tate
performer
Mark Heap
performer
Phil Cornwell
performer
Tracy-Ann Oberman
performer

Crew

Amelia Bullmore
writer
Julia Davis
writer
Kevin Eldon
writer
Rebecca Front
writer
Simon Pegg
writer
Catherine Tate
writer
Mark Heap
writer
Barry Davies
writer
Phil Cornwell
writer
Tracy-Ann Oberman
writer
Graham Linehan
writer
Arthur Mathews
writer
Graham Linehan
director
Christopher Morris
director
Jonathan Gershfield
director
Sioned Wiliam
producer
Caroline Leddy
producer
Phil Clarke
producer
Peter Fincham
executive producer
Geoffrey Perkins
executive producer

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