Family Tree

A new comedy series from Christopher Guest for BBC Two

Characters

TOM CHADWICK (Chris O’Dowd) is feeling pretty lost and without direction in life. He’s unattached after he recently broke up with his girlfriend of five years. He’s also unemployed after he lost his job reconstructing car accidents and assessing claims for an insurance company. But the unexpected inheritance of a chest full of old curios from a distant great-aunt sets him on a quest to trace his family tree and – in the many unusual directions his journey takes him – to find out who he is and what his place in the world is.

BEA CHADWICK (Nina Conti) is Tom’s older sister and is almost never seen without her hand puppet, “Monkey”, who she’s been attached to -- literally -- for most of her life as a result of an early childhood trauma while visiting a zoo. Originally recommended by a psychiatrist for therapeutic reasons, the hand puppet is still her constant companion and “inner voice” thirty-something years later. Although Bea doesn’t initially share Tom’s interest in their family’s genealogy, she gets more drawn into it as his quest progresses.

“MONKEY” (Monkey) has firmly and impolitely declined to release any biographical information for media purposes.

PETE STUPPLES (Tom Bennett) is Tom’s best friend, going back to primary school days. He may not be the sharpest tool in the drawer, and mistakenly thinks he’s a major “player” in the romantic department, but he’s an upbeat and loyal friend to Tom. He works at a children’s zoo and feels at home surrounded by animals and children because they’re his equal, emotionally and intellectually. He doesn’t really understand Tom’s new-found interest in genealogy but is always game for new experiences, so happily accompanies him on his quest.

KEITH CHADWICK (Michael McKean) is Tom’s father. Divorced from Tom and Bea’s mother for many years, Keith is now remarried and retired from his job as a Yeoman Warder (“Don’t call us Beefeaters!”) at the Tower of London. He spends his time following his beloved Tottenham Hotspurs Football Club, watching DVDs of 1970’s sitcoms, and trying to come up with an invention that will help change the world. Keith definitely doesn’t share Tom’s interest in his family’s history and thinks that genealogy “like every other ology, is best left to the scientists.”

MR. PFISTER (Jim Piddock) owns the antique shop Mr. Pfister’s Bits And Bobs situated beneath Tom’s flat in London. Originally from South Africa, he has a large, close-knit family and is an avuncular friend to Tom, with whom he shares cups of tea, cakes, and philosophy. Prone to smelling everything he comes in contact with, Pfister has many hobbies, one of which is putting “famous landmarks in bottles,” which he hasn’t quite mastered yet. Being a hypochondriac, he also spends a lot of time on a website called isitfatal.com

LUBA CHADWICK (Lisa Palfrey) is Keith’s second wife and a native of Moldova, who has scant regard for the English language or fine cuisine, as her communication skills and cooking both demonstrate. Considerably younger than Keith, she’s more interested in fashion and fitness, though you’d never know it to look at her. She has an unusual fascination with pigs, which she appears to hold in much higher regard than Bea’s “monkey puppet,” who she clearly doesn’t like or trust and who, in turn, regards Luba as “a primitive woman.”

AL CHADWICK (Ed Begley Jr.) is Tom’s cousin in California, who shares Tom’s interest in the family lineage. He’s worked for nearly forty years as a podiatrist in Glendale, having taken over the family practice and followed in his father’s footsteps. A keen survivalist, Al is prepared for -- and expects -- anything untoward to happen.

KITTY CHADWICK (Carrie Aizley) is Al’s wife. Some years his junior, she is very much a free spirit and runs her own business out of their house, selling and administering all-natural “irrigations”. She also volunteers for an animal rescue group and temporarily fosters a wide array of different creatures.

RICK TILLMAN (Matt Griesser) is another of Tom’s American cousins and of the same generation. Originally from New York, Rick now lives in Redondo Beach, California, where he teaches history and frequently participates in local Civil war and other military re-enactments in his spare time.

JULIE FENNEMAN (Maria Blasucci) is Rick’s girlfriend, who was born and raised in Hawaii and is now studying for her PhD in Oceanography. She lives with Rick and, like him, likes to learn about and try new and obscure ethnic foods. She also collects miniature owls.

DAVE CHADWICK (Christopher Guest) is another cousin of Tom’s, from the Southern branch of the Chadwick family. He owns a guitar shop in North Carolina and is often on the road looking for good wood to build musical instruments. His wife, Guadalupe, is from Peru, but currently missing.

MIKE MORTON (Fred Willard) is Al and Kitty’s friendly neighbour, who often pops by to visit, unannounced and uninvited. Now retired, he used to be a local TV weatherman. Never short of a questionable joke or anecdote, Mike also fancies himself as an amateur magician, even if no-one else does.

ALLY KEELE (Amy Seimetz) moved to Los Angeles from her home state of Connecticut and is an aspiring writer and novelist. Currently working in a bookstore, she meets Tom when he witnesses a car accident she gets into. Their attraction is immediate, but neither is sure if they’re ready to start a more intimate relationship.