BBC iPlayer announces its first comedy drama feature film, The Rack Pack

The Rack Pack is our very first comedy drama feature film made exclusively for BBC iPlayer and builds on the success of our original commissions, which have attracted over 29 million requests in the last six months.Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer
Date: 25.09.2015     Last updated: 25.09.2015 at 00.01
The BBC today announced its first ever comedy drama feature film for BBC iPlayer, The Rack Pack, starring Luke Treadaway (Fortitude, Clash of the Titans), Will Merrick (About Time, Skins), Kevin Bishop (The Kevin Bishop Show, A Few Best Men), Nichola Burley (Death Comes To Pemberley, Downton Abbey) and James Bailey (Downton Abbey).

Produced by Zeppotron, the film will be released exclusively on BBC iPlayer in early December.

Directed by Brian Welsh (Glasgow Girls, Black Mirror) this comedy drama explores the glory days of the Seventies and Eighties snooker scene, when huge characters became household names and Snooker Loopy troubled the pop charts. The film is written by Shaun Pye, Mark Chappell and Alan Connor, who are the team behind A Young Doctor’s Notebook.

The story tells of the rivalry between Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins (Luke Treadaway), whose natural talent and showmanship transformed the image of the traditional game and captivated audiences across the country, and Steve ‘The Nugget’ Davis (Will Merrick) who under the guidance of manager Barry Hearn (Kevin Bishop) dominated the sport throughout the Eighties and ushered in a new era of professionalism. Nichola Burley plays Alex’s wife, Lynn Higgins, and James Bailey takes on the role of the greatest player never to be World Champion, Jimmy White.

This rip roaring romp through the snooker scene of Eighties Britain is a celebration of the huge personalities of the time and an affectionate look at a gloriously nostalgic period of this very British sport.

In 1985, the climax of the world snooker final broadcast on the BBC in the early hours of a Monday morning was watched by 18.5 million people in the UK, which remains a record for a post-midnight audience for any channel in the country. This year is the 30th anniversary of that final and The Rack Pack celebrates this by bringing the party to BBC iPlayer.

The Rack Pack was ordered by Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content for BBC iPlayer, and Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy Commissioning, and is executive produced by Peter Holmes (Would I Lie To You?, Frankie Boyle's Election Autopsy). The film is made exclusively for BBC iPlayer by Zeppotron, part of Endemol Shine Group. The BBC Commissioning Editor is Gregor Sharp and the producer is Barney Reisz (Black Mirror).

Victoria Jaye, Head of TV Content, BBC iPlayer, says: “The Rack Pack is our very first comedy drama feature film made exclusively for BBC iPlayer and builds on the success of our original commissions, which have attracted over 29 million requests in the last six months. Snooker is a much-loved British sport, and The Rack Pack celebrates its glory days in the Seventies and Eighties in a thrilling and brilliantly written story which will be the centre piece of our film offer over the Christmas period.”

Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy Commissioning, says: "BBC iPlayer offers a unique creative space for comedy of all shapes, sizes, tones and ambition - free of the traditional parameters of TV slots. Higgins was to snooker what George Best was to football - a Northern Irish folk hero whose mesmerising talent made for a fascinating world-class champion on the snooker table, but his explosive personality made for a troubled life off the table. Our cast are perfect to do this vibrant story and era justice.”

Peter Holmes, Managing Director of Zeppotron, says: “This commission marks an exciting new step for Zeppotron as we produce our first ever feature film. For me, this is the true definition of a ‘passion project’. I am a huge fan of snooker and this golden era of the sport is in my blood. If you only watch one film featuring Big Bill Werbeniuk this year, make sure it’s this one.”

BBC iPlayer is available on over 10,000 devices in the UK for free, from computers and smartphones to tablets and Connected TVs. 2014 was a record-breaking year for BBC iPlayer and BBC iPlayer Radio which saw 3.5bn TV and radio programme requests across all devices and the catch-up window extend from seven to 30 days.

MA