During the British Comedy Awards last week, comedian Lee Mack let it slip that the remake of the American sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond that he was doing with Catherine Tate was “not going to happen.” The show, which was looked forward to by many fans of either comedian, was going to be titled The Smiths. The pilot has been shot but will likely not see the light of day. This isn’t the first unaired pilot starring Mack and Tate. You may not be aware that Mack’s hit sitcom Not Going Out was originally piloted (2005) opposite Catherine Tate, but once the show was picked up, she moved on to do her own show, so Not Going Out replaced her with American actress Megan Dodds. In fact, prior to Not Going Out, Mack and Tate worked together in a sketch show called Bits at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This sketch show eventually became The Sketch Show, produced by Steve Coogan’s company and remade by America starring Kelsey Grammer. The television version didn’t include Tate, not because she was too famous, but because Mack was the only one from the stage show invited into the TV version, just as he was the only person from the British TV version invited to be in the American version. In both cases, he was happy to ditch his castmates in pursuit of success, a decision in retrospect he regrets.
When Tate told Mack she wasn’t going to do Not Going Out because of her own success, he told her he wasn’t bovvered. In his book Mack the Life, Mack says that he’s always been very supportive of Tate in her career, except perhaps for Doctor Who because it ruins the magic when one of the cast members phones you up asking what a Cyberman looks like. He writes that he would love to play opposite her in a sitcom someday where they could play a married couple, and for one episode, they did. But we’ll probably never see it.