Richard Herring introduces each of his guests on his RHLSTP podcast (audio / video) by highlighting the most obscure roles they’ve done, which have been excruciatingly excavated from the farthest reaches of pop culture (by which I mean Herring poked around on Internet Movie Database for about a minute). So, for you trivia nerds, here are some of your favorite people in the roles you’ve never heard of.
Rebecca Front is in pretty much everything, from one of the stars of The Thick of It to Grandma’s House, Alan Partridge, Up the Women…the list goes on. She’s also been in a bunch of sketch shows like Fist of Fun, Big Train, and the Catherine Tate Show. Her book is titled Curious: True Stories and Loose Connections.
You Can Choose Your Friends (2007)
You Can Choose Your Friends is a TV movie written by Richard Herring about a family of grown siblings getting together for their parents’ anniversary. The siblings are played by Richard Herring, Claire Skinner, and Robert Daws. Robert’s character Simon is married to Amanda (Front) who is struggling to get through the reunion despite knowing that her relationship with her husband is over for good. “That was a really good program,” Rebecca recalls on RHLSTP, and having seen it on YouTube, I have to agree, that it’s quite a charming little film.
Chris Addison is a standup comedian, as well as a star of The Thick of It and In the Loop. He was also a regular on Skins. He has appeared on a number of panel shows and has presented some, such as Have I Got News for You (guest) and Show and Tell. You may also remember him as Seb in last season’s Doctor Who.
Dotcomedy was a show that used the internet as content, along with studio guests. Hosted by Chris Addison and Gail Porter, the Channel 4 lead in script goes, “Join the dots now on Channel 4 and you get a Gail, a Chris, and some sexy cyber stuff,” all of which basically sum up why it failed. The Guardian criticized Dotcomedy as being already behind the times, having a predictable boy/girl flirty dynamic between the hosts, and being too much about sex. Chris Addison says that Dotcomedy helped his career because it was so bad, he forced himself to do something good afterward. Next, he did was a live show called Gentleman Scholar Acrobat (a Pink Panther reference). He performed this at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 1999. His website cites this solo show as “fairly unremarkable.”
Robert Llewellyn is best known as, though not immediately recognizable, Kryten in Red Dwarf. He’s also hosted shows like Scrapheap Challenge and his online shows like Carpool and Fully Charged. He is the author of many books, including The Man in the Rubber Mask, Sold Out, and the News From novel trilogy.
Birds of a Feather (1990)
Birds of a Feather, started in 1989, is now in its twelfth season. It’s about two sisters fending for themselves after their husbands are arrested for armed robbery. In the season 2 episode “You Pays Yer Money,” all about one of the leads not knowing who to vote for, Llewellyn plays a Tory candidate. He learned on the set that the characters were written for the actresses so that they were similar to their real personalities. Llewellyn remembers getting a lift home with one of the “Birds,” and jokes that he hopes they don’t bring his character back after all these years.
I’m Alan Partridge
In season 1 episode 5 “To Kill a Mocking Alan” of I’m Alan Partridge starring Steve Coogan, Graham Linehan plays one of two Irish radio DJs, Aidan Walsh, who Alan desperately tries to impress. Unfortunately for Alan, they are far more interested in Lynn’s fond reminisces of Ireland than Alan’s ignorant comments about the Irish Famine. Hoping not to be outed as a resident of this sterile hotel, Alan invites the DJs to his home…that is, the home of a man he met in the lobby called Jed, who claims he is Alan’s biggest fan. It isn’t until Alan and the two DJs discover Jed has a room-sized Alan Partridge shrine that this claim gains some merit. The DJs are frightened by the shrine, thinking it’s Alan’s own doing, and flee the scene, leaving Alan to grapple with Jed, who’s now ripped off his shirt and donned an Alan Partridge mask.
To make this episode weirder, it is inspired by a real life event. Partridge writer Peter Baynham, who used to reoccur on Fist of Fun, was inspired by an anecdote of Stewart Lee’s. One evening after a gig, Lee didn’t have a place to stay and was invited to crash at the home of one of the audience members. When he arrived, he discovered the man had posters of Lee on the walls. Considering there were probably posters of other comedians, too, this isn’t as extreme Partridge’s adventure.
Armando Iannucci is a television writer and creator best know for his work on the Alan Partridge shows, The Thick of It and In the Loop, and HBO’s Veep. In 2009, he wrote a book called The Audacity of Hype.
The End of the Roadshow (1992)
The End of the Roadshow was a BBC Radio 4 show written by Lee & Herring, hosted by Mr. Bean’s camera thief Nick Hancock, the half of Mullarkey and Meyers who didn’t become Austin Powers, and Tony Hawks (not Hawk the skateboarder, the one with the fridge), with Rebecca Front playing roles. Armando Iannucci is credited as assistant to the writers. You can download the episodes here.
You can listen to Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (pronounced Rehellisteppa) for free on Comedy.co.uk or buy the video versions from Go Faster Stripe for just five pounds. There are some video episodes on YouTube for free, but if you want to help the show continue, don’t forget to buy some episodes, too.