Archives for October 2011

Stefan Golaszewski on Him & Her

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Jon Aird | 10:30 UK time, Friday, 28 October 2011

With hit BBC Three programme 'Him & Her' returning on Tuesday, we asked writer and creator of the show, Stefan Golaszewski, to give us his thoughts on the new series. He's also happy to answer any questions you may have about the series, so why not comment below! 

Stefan Golaszewski - 'Big Talk Productions/ Andy Laas'

Stefan Golaszewski - 'Big Talk Productions/Andy Laas'

"With the second series of Him & Her, I’ve tried to push the show forward - more funny bits, more drama, more pointlessness and inactivity. More like what it’s like to be in love. We’ve tried to make every episode feel and look different, to take the show to a new place each week. In other comedies you can send the characters off to the pub or the zoo. In this show, where we never go outside, you can’t. And so the series focuses in on the characters and the tiny moments their days are made of, on the next stage of Steve and Becky’s relationship, on the slow destruction of Laura and Paul, on the will-they-won’t-they of Dan and Shelly. Steve’s ex-girlfriend’s back from university. Laura’s ploughing on with her wedding plans. Dan’s back with his girlfriend Anita. Shelly’s still alone.

This is a show about what it’s like to be indoors with the one you love. Never going outside, existing in real time, the comedy and the drama have to come from details, from the sorts of things that happen in everyday life. It has to feel natural, organic and unwritten. This can be a challenge to write. It takes ages to make something look like it hasn’t taken ages. But it’s also the fun of it, trying to reflect what being a person is actually like, as opposed to the kinds of people you get on telly - the terribly serious people who don’t go to the toilet and always know what to say to each other. I’ve tried to take this, the Him & Her way of doing things, and marry it to funnier stuff, more dramatic stuff and a wider cast of characters. Becky’s parents meet Steve’s mum and her new boyfriend. There’s a fight outside. Dan’s cousin comes round. We meet another neighbour. Lots more happens in this series but it’s still always about Steve and Becky wanting to be alone when no one will let them."

Here's a clip rounding up all the best bits of Him & Her series 1 plus a peek at series 2...


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Him & Her returns to BBC Three at 10.30 pm on Tuesday 1st November. 

Stefan is happy to answer any questions, so comment below and he might get back to you.


Him & Her Programme Page

Stefan Golaszewski's website


Pippa Evans on... Be Our Guest

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Michelle Brooks | 12:45 UK time, Monday, 24 October 2011

Les Dennis as Mr Thomas

Mr Thomas (Les Dennis) leads a meditation session

As promised in our Salford Sitcom Showcase blog, we now bring you a behind-the-scenes peek at last week's performance of Be Our Guest, from its creator and star, Pippa Evans - comedian, improv queen and series regular on BBC2's Fast & Loose:

Pippa writes...

If you had of told me age 10 that in 19 years time I would be on a stage in Salford performing with Les Dennis in a sitcom I had written, I would have believed you. I was a precocious child. However, when Paul Schlesinger told me Be Our Guest was to be part of the Salford Sitcom Showcase, I was not only surprised but also unaware just how awesome this experience would be.

Pippa Evans and Laura Aikman

Mandy (Pippa Evans) and Laura (Laura Aikman) hard at work

I knew Be Our Guest would be performed on a set and in costume, but anyone with a history in Theatre In Education will know that can mean anything. I once did Cinderella where my set was a red curtain on a pole and my costume was a rug with some silver gaffer tape for a belt. The pensioners we performed to didn’t know if it was a pantomime or some kind of burlesque act.

The Salford Sitcom Showcase was totally excellent – the rehearsing for 4 whole days (that’s like UNHEARD OF for such an event), the brilliant set and costumes (No gaffer in sight) and of course, the fantastic cast. It was like I had someone from every show that had ever influenced me (Father Ted, Russ Abbott, The Brittas Empire to name but a few) and all the new talent I could wish for. I also got to have a spray tan, so I spent my time in Manchester the colour of Iron Bru. Classy.

Hello?  Can anybody hear me?  Pippa Haywood as Silvia

Hello? Can anybody hear me? Pippa Haywood as Silvia

It has been over a week now since the performance and the high has just about vanished (which is more than I can say for my orange hue). The strangest thing about writing a sitcom, is never knowing if it will become anything but words on a page. Whether the jokes will ever be laughed at out loud. Be Our Guest has been in my pocket for just over two years. Getting added to and prodded at sporadically in between gigs, temping jobs and attempts at sleeping. Salford was a great way to show the BBC Executives how the show would run, how much an audience would laugh (lots!) and just how hilarious Susan Harrison looks in an oversized Chef outfit. 

Now please excuse me – I have to go and buy some new bed linen. Mine looks it’s been Tango’d.

Jack (Ardal O'Hanlon) and Penny (Susan Harrison) debating the merits of frozen omelettes

Jack (Ardal O'Hanlon) and Penny (Susan Harrison) debating the merits of frozen omelettes

Pippa Evans is on the Radio

Join Pippa for a pilot recording packed full of sketches and characters that have come out of her brain. - request free tickets here!

Watch Out BBC One... It's Khan Time!

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Michelle Brooks | 18:00 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

Adil Ray as Mr Khan


It's official folks! Our very own Mr Khan – self appointed community leader, future President of the Sparkhill Pakistani Business Association and esteemed expert on everything you never wanted to know about cricket, has landed his very own sitcom series on BBC One!

After stints on Bellamy's People, featuring on Radio 4 this year in Sparkill Sound and BBC Comedy webisodes about everything from cricket ball tampering to Nick Clegg's Muslim roots, Mr Khan will be going primetime when his new sitcom, Citizen Khan, hitting our screens in 2012. It will be produced In-House at the BBC.

The pilot, written by Adil Ray, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto previewed last week at the BBC's inaugural Salford Sitcom Showcase which trialled six new sitcoms from both established and up-and-coming writers, performed live to studio audiences over a 3-night run. The Citizen Khan read through was produced by Paul Schlesinger.

We called Mr Khan to get his reaction...

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Head of Comedy, Mark Freeland said "from BBC Comedy online, to Radio 4, now BBC One. Mr Khan cannot be stopped. We tried, but failed."

Cheryl Taylor, Head of Comedy Commissioning, said "The Salford Sitcom Showcase was designed to encourage more studio sitcoms to be produced and filmed in the North West. We are delighted that within one week of Adil Ray's phenomenal performance as Citizen Khan the show has been commissioned as a six part series for BBC One. It will prove a wonderful companion piece to our other studio sensations - Mrs Brown's Boys and Miranda"

Mr Khan at the Salford Sitcom Festival

Mr Khan at the Salford Sitcom Festival (Photo by Vishal Sharma)

Mr Khan is the alter-ego of Adil Ray who began his career in pirate radio. He has since gone on to a prolific career, hosting shows for the BBC Asian Network, Radio 4 and Radio 5Live, while presenting for the likes of BBC2's Inside Out and BBC3's Is It Cos I Is Black?

All the while, Adil has been quietly honing his comedy skills with sketches and characters for The Adil Ray Breakfast Show on the Asian Network, with his own Radio 4 pilot Sparkhill Sound, about a Community Radio station in Birmingham and in the twelve web exclusive sketches on this very website.

Adil Ray as Mr Khan

This is a man who drinks his tea from a saucer and buys job lots of bog roll from the cash and carry. A man with big dreams:

"My fellow business leaders, ask not what your Association can do for you... but what have you done for me lately?"

And strident opinions:

"This is respectable Pakistani house, not Spearmint Buffalo!"

We'll be sure to bring you behind the scenes exclusives when filming gets underway, but for now, we bring you one of his finest moments from his web series and Mr Khan's unique coverage of the last general election.

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Holy Flying Circus - The Animation

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Jon Aird | 11:20 UK time, Thursday, 20 October 2011

Holy Flying Circus Cast

Last night on BBC Four Holy Flying Circus re-imagined the 1979 release of Monty Python's Life of Brian. Alongside the fine performances and virtuoso storytelling, there was some beautiful animation sequences peppered throughout.

We caught up with Animation Director Jim Le Fevre to find out about the complex production that was involved in creating the title sequence.

Jim Le Fevre writes... 

We were approached by Hillbilly Films about doing the title sequence and some animated sections for their comedy drama, Holy Flying Circus, written by Tony Roche, in May this year.

At the first meeting it was apparent that two things boded well for the project, firstly that the budget was extremely low which meant that the passion (from both sides) needed to be extremely high, and secondly that Owen Harris, the director, had a strong vision that, although he didn't know exactly what he wanted, he wanted something passionately different.

Set in 1979, the film was to be a period drama and, for us, there was a powerful starting point in the work of Terry Gilliam who, although he never understood it at the time, was creating a new chapter in the use and technique of animation.

Owen wanted something radically new, but I was at pains to point out that if all the actors and sets were dressed in the detail of the time, were we to radically re-define Gilliam's work using contemporary CGI wizardry it would no longer be honest to his work. It would be like having a scene where John Cleese (Darren Boyd) listens to an iPod.

Owen and Art Director Lisa Marie-Hall were keen for us to mirror Gilliam's passion, craft and approach. He created an utterly ground breaking new form of animation (and comedy) through necessity; on a minimum budget and with dedicated problem solving. Well, we had the minimum budget box ticked...

That was when I realised the Phonotrope technique was ready to be used.

The Phonotrope is a technique I created about five years ago, and involves a record player spinning at a fixed speed (45 revolutions per minute), a camera filming at a fixed speed (25 frames per second) and a sequence of pictures laid out around the circumference which, when filmed, creates the illusion of animation.

Previously my experiments had been restricted to 12 inch record sized discs which, by the workings of maths, limited the length of the animated loop to 1.3 seconds. To create a 90 second sequence, I realised we needed to build upwards and outwards.

Image of 'Goldie – Jump 01' Phonotrope

Image of 'Goldie – Jump 01'

After planning the Phonotrope on the computer (in 3D Studio Max with the help of some truly fantastic code from Ben Cowell) and creating the animated loops (based on Gilliam's style but telling the story of the 'Holy Flying Circus' film) in After Effects, we laid out the sequences on A2 sheets and had them printed onto the heaviest stock of card we could afford.

From that point the outline of the sequences was taken by Ewen Dickie of Laser/Make and used to laser-cut the animation ‘frames’ out. This was no easy task as there were 2012 of them (plus a few more for the top cloud layers)

Early virtual planning of the Holy Flying Circus Phonotrope copyright Jim le Fevre 2010

Early virtual planning of the Holy Flying Circus Phonotrope

Gordon Allen and Gee Stoughton from We Are The Art Department took up the reigns to physically build the structure of the Phonotrope, with Gordon carefully spending time figuring out a system to be able to revolve the structure at a fixed (and constant) speed with the help of DoP Matthew Day at Clapham Road Studios.

The build eventually took two weeks with help from many extra hands including Sophie Powell and Joe Kirton and the rigging and lighting took three days.

The Holy Flying Circus Phonotrope in construction

The Holy Flying Circus Phonotrope in construction

The final structure was 1.2m wide at the base, 2.1m tall, and weighed A LOT. Each segment was linked through moments of animation which meant that once the Phonotrope was in place there was a final run of sticking and from that moment onwards the only way to take it off was to break the whole thing apart, which Claire Thompson, the producer from Nexus Productions and Matt Day had to do at the end.

The completed phonotrope - copyright Jim le Fevre 2010

The completed phonotrope

We had to use a combination of a motion control rig and a 14” ball-bearing ring to be able to spin the Phonotrope and due to the weight of the tower it took around ten seconds to get up to speed and, as we discovered to our cost, about 16 seconds to ramp down to a stop.

The final stage of the Phonotrope, the clouds and tower, never made it into the film as the linking scene involving chewing gum and a foot that followed it got cut... but you can see that here in the Making Of video!

Click to watch The Making of the Holy Flying Circus Title Sequence

Watch The Making of the Holy Flying Circus Title Sequence

If you would like to see the structure in it's (almost) entirety it currently stands in the foyer of Nexus Productions in Shoreditch.

For More on Holy Flying Circus, read Rufus Jones on the TV Blog talk about making a drama of Monty Python.

Images copyright Jim le Fevre 2010

Six Sitcoms in Salford

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Michelle Brooks | 16:11 UK time, Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Last week, Salford hosted a veritable whirlwind of fresh comedy in the form of the Salford Sitcom Showcase. We caught up with Creative Director Rebecca Papworth who said it had been "absolutely brilliant but I’m looking forward to some sleep!”

Not surprising as the Showcase involved “over 50 cast members, wearing over 50 costumes, in over 50 scenes… on a set that transforms into 24 places… for a three night run of six different sitcoms to audiences of over 280 people.”

Citizen Khan - Photograph by Vishal SharmaCitizen Khan - why plan your daughter's wedding when you can read the paper instead?

There were shows from both new and established writers: Tony Sarchet's Sandwiched; Pippa Evans' Be Our Guest; Jason Cook's Hebburn; Adil Ray, Anil Gupta and Richard Pinto's Citizen Khan; Georgia Pritchett's Up!, and Dan Gaster and Rob Colley's Single White Male.

In the words of Cheryl Taylor, BBC Controller of Comedy Commissioning, there was “something to suit all tastes”, from interfering in-laws to culture clashes, hapless hotel staff, faulty gaydar, wedding nightmares, and dead hamsters.

Hebburn - Photograph by Michelle Brooks

Hebburn - Girl talk... Best tackled with a strong cuppa

The cast and crew had roughly four days to rehearse - this may well explain the recent upswing in sales of caffeinated drinks around Greater Manchester. There were also plenty of new faces, with many of the actors seconded to sitcom from stand-up, radio and sketch, including Chris Ramsey, Jason Cook, Adil Ray, Pippa Evans and Imran Yusuf. As Hebburn’s director Martin Dennis explained, “It’s been a challenge, with not much time and a big cast, some of whom had not acted before, but it felt like the audience bought into the family which was great.”

Single White Male: Pam and Kath out on the town, or in the words of Pam's son Paul - Single White Male: Pam and Kath out on the town, or in the words of Pam's son Paul - "mutton dressed as mutton"

The new breed performed alongside established screen stars like Ardal O’Hanlon, Sophie Thompson, Shobu Kapoor, Russ Abbot, Kris Marshall, Pippa Haywood and Les Dennis. As Imran said to us after the show, “I grew up watching the likes of ‘Ledge Dennis’, Pippa Haywood and Ardal O’Hanlon so it’s been wonderful working with them.”

Up! - Photograph by Michelle Brooks

Up! - The six housemates scramble to nab one of the five remaining rooms

What set the showcase aside from other sitcom performances was the fact there were no TV cameras, no retakes, and no long pauses while the lights get adjusted. Just 6 x 30 minute theatrical performances in front of live audiences with no distractions. Peter Salmon, Director of BBC North said on Wednesday night, “It takes guts, nerve and a sense of humour to present new comedy to an audience.” And after three nights of hard-core chuckling, it’s clear that the gamble paid off.


Here’s a selection of highlights so you can laugh along with us (and don’t forget – there are more pics on Facebook too)…

Be Our Guest - Why talk when you can text?

Jack commenting on his extensive culinary experience in Be Our Guest: 
"I've cooked for huge events - International Scout Camp 2003, IInternational Scout Camp 2004..."

The impromptu warm-up act, Mr Russ Abbot:
“They can’t afford a warm-up, so they’ve got me!”

Sandwiched’s Sylvia reminiscing about Leonardo DiCaprio in That Film:
“Sad isn’t it?  He loved her enough to sink!”

Citizen Khan, musing on his daughter’s impending nuptials:
“Maybe we should do English wedding – twenty minutes in register office, cup of tea, cucumber sandwich, bye bye thanks for coming.”

Jason’s Mom and Dad in Hebburn, frantically cutting holes in bread rolls with the aid of an apple corer.  Why, you ask?  Because that’s how you make bagels!

Ian, aka a Single White Male, affectionately referring to his personal website:
“I like to call it ‘sit on my Facebook’ dot com.”

Rebecca from Up!, following a recent break up:
“He says I’m obsessive.  I’m not obsessive. I’ve told him that like 50,000 times!”

Tune in later in the week for more from stand-up stars and newly turned sitcom-writers, Pippa Evans and Jason Cook, who’ll be giving us the lowdown on the writing process… and in Jason’s case, telling us how it felt to watch his life story on stage, with his best mate, Chris Ramsey, in the title role!

Sandwiched - Photograph by Vishal Sharma

Sandwiched - Sweet Dreams as Sylvia  casually brings up the chinese brothels...

Photographs by Vishal Sharma and Michelle Brooks


Funny Women

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Jon Aird | 10:30 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The Funny Women Awards Final 2011 took place at the Leicester Square Theatre

The Funny Women Awards Final 2011 took place at the Leicester Square Theatre. Photograph by Grace Lightman.

Comedy competitions are always opportunities in the industry to see exciting new acts and are often the launchpad for comedians' careers

Last week we went to the final of Funny Women; a competition dedicated to celebrating and encouraging female comedic talent.

The judges were a scarily esteemed panel of people from the industry including BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz,  Lucy Lumsden from Sky Comedy and Kate Garraway, from Daybreak Entertainment.

Whilst they deliberated, we were treated to sketches from last year's winning act - Thankless Child.  

There were 13 comedians competing to be crowned the winner and they included sketch acts, characters, stand up and musical numbers featuring the staple of so many comedy acts - the ukelele.

Ther'es a tradition of ukelele's being featured in the final, with past ukelele-playing acts including Helen Arney (2010), Katy Schutte (2007) and this year's Gabriella Burnel

Judges from Funny Women Back row : Dr Linda Papadapoulos, Kate Garraway, Sam Ward, Louise Court, Lucy Ansbro, Will Gompertz. Front row : Jane Martinson, Lynne Parker, Lucy Lumsden. Photograph by Grace Lightman.

After a rich array of acts including Janet Bettesworth, Sadia Azmat and fast-talking Sarah Callahan, Lara A King was crowned the winner, and you can expect great things from her.

Runners up this year were the stand out stand up Katherine Bennett and the very aimiable Bekka Bowling. The variety award went to high energy sketch duo Ladies Live Longer.

To get an idea of what it was like, here's a clip created by Funny Women to show the best moments from the final. 


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Jon Aird | 09:00 UK time, Monday, 10 October 2011

Christmas has come early! We really will be treating you this festive season - first Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, and now BBC One has announced Lapland, a 90 minute family comedy bound to warm your heart during the winter season. Filming is taking place in both the UK and... you guessed it... Lapland! 

Sue Johnson stars in a Christmas comedy special, Lapland.

Sue Johnson (The Royle Family, Waking The Dead), plays Eileen Lewis, the mother of a large choatic family from Birkenhead.

She leads an exciting cast including Stephen Graham (This Is England), Elizabeth Berrington (Secrets And Lies), William Ash (Waterloo Road), Julie Graham (Survivors), Zawe Ashton (Fresh Meat) and Keith Barron (Benidorm)

The script, written by Olivier Award winner of Best New Comedy 2010 Michael Wynne, sees the Lewis clan saving every penny they can to make Christmas extra special.

And this year they decide to make a trip to Lapland to visit Father Christmas in person. So expect Huskies and Reindeers galore, and maybe a sighting of the magical Northern Lights...

Talking about her role, Sue Johnston says: "Lapland won't know what's hit it when the Lewis family arrive. It's a hopeful, bittersweet comedy and I'm delighted to be a part of it."

We can't wait for this to hit our screens later in the year, if you have any comments or questions let us know and we will pass them onto the production team!

Sunday Night Sketches and Souvenirs

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Jon Aird | 18:24 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

We're really looking forward to 7:15pm this Sunday because it's the final episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme on Radio 4. This promises to provide 30 minutes of edifying entertainment for your ears, performed by Finnemore alongside Carrie Quinlan, Lawry Lewin and Simon Kane.

John's had plenty of time to hone his comedy craft, as the creator of Radio 4 sitcom Cabin Pressure, as well as writing for Dead Ringers, That Mitchell & Webb Look and David Mitchell’s Soap Box. And yes, he’s also that bloke off Miranda...

The show is packed with comedy gems, from cautionary tales about the hazards of post-exam answer swapping to a current affairs clip in which Ministers helpfully call for a national debate:

'Everyone in Britain needs to compare diaries, find a day we can all do, then meet up, perhaps somewhere conveniently near the middle, like Nottingham...'

Then there are the letters from Jeykll to Hyde...

'If you will not respect our home, will you please at least respect our body. We both have to live in it, and as a lifelong member of the Temperance Society, I deeply resent getting your hangovers.'

...and back again:

'Give it up Doctor Stupidhead. There's nothing you can do to stop me so don't even try. Now I'm going to wee in your hat.'

And last week's episode finally answered one of life's great conundrums: Why is it that key-cutters always sell trophies on the side? C'mon, admit it, we’ve all thought about it.

So don't forget:

Time & Date: Sunday 9th October @ 7:15pm
Location: Anywhere - your pod, pad, puter or, you could even use a radio

And in the meantime, you can still listen to last week's episode here.

Plus we have an exclusive excerpt from John's notebook below, giving you a unique insight into the process of sketch writing, direct from the horse's mouth... or pen.

John writes...

Here is the page of my notebook in which I came up with the 'Tardis Noise' sketch - which I did, as I often do, by writing something that annoys me in the middle of the page, and seeing what happens next.


Page of John Finnemore's notebook



There's two things I find interesting about what happened in this case.

Firstly, the false start with the princess who wants to be a police dog handler, which is a perfectly decent starting point, but didn't seem to go anywhere. Had I written it, that sketch would have been a more straight-forward attack on the Follow Your Dream thing that annoyed me in the first place. Whereas the Tardis sketch isn't really about that at all; it's a character-driven story.

Secondly, for most of its development, the Tardis sketch seemed to be about dodgem cars.  It's interesting how late in the construction of the sketch the Tardis noise itself entered the picture.

Useful Links:

The final episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme airs on Radio 4 at 7:15pm on Sunday 9th October. 

BBC Comedy Presents at the Manchester Comedy Store

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Jon Aird | 15:30 UK time, Friday, 7 October 2011

You may remember we blogged about the final shortlisted scripts for Salford Sitcom Showcase back in September. As well the finalists performing their sitcoms to a live studio audience, two of them will also be performing in Comedy Presents at the Manchester Comedy Store on the 12th October.

The gig will be MC'd by Jason Cook, 2011 nominee for best compare Chortle awards, and will feature the following star turns:

Adam Riches, winner of the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2011, praised highly by judges for his trademark mix of character comedy, and a fearless level of audience engagement. He is also known for slipping on a probiotic yoghurt and breaking his leg onstage during his 2008 show Alpha Males.

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The multi-talented Doc Brown began his career as a Battle Rapper in 2000, and has performed with Mark Ronson, Lily Allen and Estelle. He made the final of 2008’s So You Think You’re Funny? with only his third stand-up gig. He has also had roles in Rev, Miranda, The Inbetweeners, and is currently shooting a new BBC comedy drama The Four O’clock Club.

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Pippa Evans was nominated for the Best Newcomer Edinburgh Comedy Award 2008 for her dark character comedy. Her most popular character is Loretta Maine, who is described by the Guardian as "Dolly Parton seen through the lens of Mike Leigh." She is a core member of Showstopper! The Improvised Musical and appeared in Fast and Loose.

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Sheeps are a three man sketch show that debuted at the Edinburgh festival in 2011. The troupe are all former Cambridge footlights members. Liam Williams was a runner-up in 2010’s So You Think You're Funny?, while Daran Johnson is already a prizewinning playwright.

And last but by no means least, Andrew Ryan was a finalist in the Hackney Empire New Act 2010 and did a split hour show in the White Horse in Edinburgh with Epic Win’s Joe Lycett. He is currently preparing a solo show for Edinburgh 2012.

BBC Comedy Presents, Wednesday 12th October 8pm. For more info and tickets visit The Manchester Comedy Store.

Behind The Scenes of The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

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Jon Aird | 17:00 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

As announced this morning, production is underway of the new show 'The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff', starring Robert Webb. We've already got some exclusive behind the scenes pictures and quotations from the producer, Gareth Edwards, and the writer, Mark Evans... as if you weren't already excited enough as it is.

Robert Webb filming The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

Robert Webb filming The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

On the first day of filming, producer Gareth Edwards said "So here we are deep in the thick of Victorian London made out of plywood, complete with plastic railings and rubber cobblestones. Actors are going into wardrobe and make-up wearing jeans and trainers and emerging in crinolines, wigs and  top hats as if they were on a time-travelling conveyor belt. Urchins are scampering about. It's all very surreal. And there's some very impressive facial hair going on. It's all a little bit mad and properly exciting. "


The writer of the show, Mark Evans, has also shared his feeling about the start of production: "It turns out you sit eating cake and typing for a while and then people actually go and make the things you so glibly typed. I just wish that they'd picked up on a couple of typos. In particular, I was quite surprised to find Jedrington and family now live in a small, two-bedroomed mouse. But some on set rewrites and no-one will really notice. People have worked so hard and so brilliantly - everything looks amazing and properly Victorian. I felt an overwhelming urge to apologise to everyone 'sorry, this is my fault... sorry everyone...' but instead just said 'thank you' and then drank too much coffee and ate all the biscuits. I'm a writer; that's my job."


Mark Evans and Robert Webb on the set of The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

Writer, Mark Evans, and Robert Webb who plays Jedrington on the set of The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

We'll keep you posted on all the latest news from behind the scenes, so keep checking back!



The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

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Jon Aird | 09:00 UK time, Monday, 3 October 2011

Exciting news from BBC Two who announced today that production was underway on The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff, a new four part comedy adventure and Dickensian romp. Set in the world of Jedrington Secret-Past, up-standing family man and owner of The Old Shop of Stuff, Victorian London's most successful purveyor of miscellaneous odd things. 

Robert Webb

Robert Webb leads the cast in The Bleak Old Shop Of Stuff

This is really going to be a who's who of the comedy scene, produced by Gareth Edwards (That Mitchell And Webb Look) and written by Mark Evans who penned Radio 4 comedy Bleak Expectations, a Victorian adventure about a different set of Dickensian characters. That's not even to mention the cast led by Robert Webb (That Mitchell & Webb Look) in the role of Jedrington and Katherine Parkinson (The IT Crowd) who plays his wife Conceptiva.

Katherine Parkinson

Katherine Parkinson will play Jedrington's wife, Conceptiva.


It's going to kick off with a one hour Christmas special, which will be followed by three 30 minute episodes, which will be aired early next year. 

The Christmas special will feature Stephen Fry as the evil lawyer Malifax Skulkingworm alongside David Mitchell (That Mitchell & Webb Look), Celia Imrie (Nanny McPhee), Pauline McLynn (Father Ted) and Johnny Vegas (Ideal). The rest of the series will feature the likes of Tim McInnerny, Kevin Eldon, Sarah Hadland and Derek Griffiths.


Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry features in the Christmas special.

Robert Webb says "I'm really looking forward to working with my all time hero David Mitchell. Apparently Stephen Fry is in it too, which is nice." 


We can't wait! More Details to follow as we get them. Ask us any questions and we'll pass them onto the production team.

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