BAFTA-winning writer Graham Linehan (Father Ted and The IT Crowd) has joined forces with Sony Gold Comedy Award-winner Steve Delaney and Olivier Award-winner Rory Kinnear for a brand-new comedy series for BBC Two, Count Arthur Strong.
The 6x30-minute series will air this summer and follows the world of Count Arthur Strong (Delaney), a bumbling faded variety act, prone to delusions of grandeur, selective memory loss and the blurting out of malapropisms. He was never as famous as he thinks he was... or still thinks he is. Now Arthur’s days are all about opportunity with another great entertainment triumph only a phone call away. But until that call comes, Arthur spends his day making the most of what comes along, creating chaos and confusion wherever he goes – blissfully unaware that he has done so.
The series starts with the death of Max Baker, Count Arthur’s old partner from the early days on stage. Max’s son Michael (Kinnear) has agreed to write a biography of his famous father and sets out to find his father’s old variety partner. Little does Michael know that his few days of ‘research’ will create a world of chaos – Arthur’s world.
Graham Linehan says: “Every time Steve does the voice, I’m cracking up, and I suddenly know what the next line should be, or the next scene, exactly how and where he can be funny. Steve has an approach to Arthur that is instinctive and warm, and I’m looking forward to getting deeper into that.”
Steve adds: “I’ve had the best time ‘doing’ Arthur for the past 15 years and to now have someone like Graham to lean on through it is tremendous. There is no one I’d rather work with. But don’t tell him that.”
Count Arthur Strong is a fictional comedy character created by comedian Steve Delaney. Delaney created the Count Arthur character in the 1980s when he was a drama student at Central School of Speech and Drama in London. In 1997, Delaney resurrected Strong for the Edinburgh Fringe, an outing that gained a commendation from the Perrier Award panel. Further runs at Edinburgh gained the character cult status, with fellow comics, including Ross Noble and Noel Fielding, being particularly vocal in their support of the character. In 2003, Count Arthur appeared regularly as a guest on Mark Radcliffe's BBC Radio 2 Show. In 2005 he was given his own BBC Radio 4 series entitled Count Arthur Strong's Radio Show! The series, now in its seventh season, won the Sony Radio Award for Best Comedy in 2009.
The series is currently in production and will feature the hugely talented cast of Steve Delaney, Rory Kinnear, Zahra Ahmadi, Chris Ryman, Ruth Posner, Andy Linden and Dave Plimmer. Lindsay Duncan, Lucy Briers and Barry Cryer guest star. Executive Producers are Jon Rolph for Retort, Richard Daws for Komedia and Gregor Sharp for the BBC, and the series will be produced by Richard Boden.
Seventy-something Count Arthur Strong, a faded variety star, still believes he’s in show-business. Ever optimistic, Arthur goes through life ready to try anything to make a few £££s – and ready to give a performance whenever he feels he has an audience. Unfortunately he’s not very good at either and his efforts usually end in chaos.
Michael Baker (played by Rory Kinnear)
Michael grew up hardly knowing his father, comedian and 'King Of Saturday Night' Max Baker, and now that he’s dead, Michael’s been asked to write a biography about him. Shy, bookish and quiet – his need to research his Dad’s life leads him to spend time with Arthur – and exposes him to quite a different life.
Bulent (played by Chris Ryman)
Bulent is the irascible Turkish owner of Arthur's local cafe - a man with a fiery temper who seems to dislike everyone. He runs the café with his younger sister Sinem, and this café is at the heart of the series and Arthur’s main stage. Bulent puts up with Arthur but only just.
Sinem (played by Zahra Ahmadi)
Sinem runs the café along with her elder brother Bulent, but it's not really the life for her. Smart as a whip and with a devilish sense of humour, she stands up to her brother and is the smiling face of the café. She puts up with Arthur’s eccentricities with good grace and looks after elderly Katya and eccentric Eggy. And could she be developing a thing for Michael?...
John The Watch (played by Andy Linden)
John the Watch is an enigma. Part of the furniture of the café, he almost never removes his tinted shades. A close friend of Arthur's, little is known of him beyond these facts.
Katya (played by Ruth Posner)
Katya is Arthur’s greatest fan, Arthur's 'Polish Princess', who always sits at the same table in the café and eats only soup – she is also very much part of the café furniture.
Eggy (played by Dave Plimmer)
Eggy is obsessed with eggs for reasons known only to himself. Distrustful of reality, he has found solace in various conspiracy theories. He is a quiet, gentle and somewhat melancholy presence in the cafe.