Lucy Porter Interview

Martyn sits down with British comedian, Lucy Porter to discuss her TV viewing habits. Her husband’s role in Thor 2 and details about her new tour.

If podcasts aren’t your thing, there’s a transcribed version down below. The transcription was auto-generated.

Wake-up call launches 13th of January. For more details visit Lucy’s website.

Martyn: It’s recording. I figured it out. That’s the thing about being middle-aged now, is I don’t get any of this tech.

Lucy: No. Well. I’ve had to learn really quickly. Because our podcast, you know, we have guests on. My nightmare is I’ll lose the recording. We did one with Martin Sheen. Which was our biggest guest ever! I was hosting the meeting and at the end of it, I was pretty sure that I’d lost the whole thing. I was trying not to, you know, when you’re trying not to show panic? I was saying to the producer, I was like, if I’ve clicked on this, Amanda? But it was fine. The idea of having to call him up and say “Can we do it all again? I pressed the wrong button”. Would’ve been awful.

Martyn: Did I see you all from Croydon?

Lucy: I am, you?

Martyn: I’m from Mitcham, but I was born in Croydon.

Lucy: Yay. But you’re much younger than me, so we probably won’t have anyone in common will we?

Martyn: I’m about five years younger than you. So, maybe.

Lucy: So, the Blue Orchid would still have been there?

Martyn: I was going there when I was 16. Yeah. The blue school kid, as they called it. That’s a local reference for nobody else.

Lucy: I love it. I could talk about Croydon all day. I feel really bad though, that I don’t live there anymore. You know, I feel I’ve betrayed my parents, my roots, and all my friends that still live there are like “when are you coming back?”. Maybe one day.

Martyn: Yeah. I’ve not been there for ages. I live in Epson now.

Lucy: Oh, nice! Well. I’m coming to the playhouse.

Martyn: Excellent, I’ll come and see you. So you’re here to talk about your new standup show, that launches next week, wake-up call. What can you tell our audience about it?

Lucy: Well, given that this is a sort of pop culture podcast. I suppose it is a very middle-aged show. So it’s for people who loved Red Dwarf the first time around.

Martyn: Brilliant, brilliant.

Lucy: That’s the sort of demographic I’m looking for. I was saying the other day that the test of whether it’s a show for you is. Are you wearing an item of clothing you bought in a garden centre? Is the only reason you stay up at night, now if you’ve got a bladder infection? Would you rather watch the repair shop than go clubbing? That’s the vibe of it.

Martyn: It’s great being middle-aged now because nobody really expects anything from me. Nobody expects me to show up to anything.

Lucy: Yes. Oh, God. And if you cancel plans. People are so delighted. It’s that lovely thing of going, listen, I’m sorry, I can’t make that thing we said we’d do. And everybody’s like, “Yay! We stay in and watch TV”.

Martyn: The relief when that text comes around and says ‘I can’t make it’.
Lucy: Yeah and. It’s always great when you’re not the one who’s broken the arrangement, then you can act wounded

Martyn: Oh no.

Lucy: Oh, I was really looking forward to the thing, I didn’t even want to do in the first place. But yeah, I mostly stay in and watch films with my kids and that is bliss.

Martyn: What have you been watching?

Lucy: We constantly watch the Marvel films on a loop basically. We sort of watched them all and then we watched them again. The first time we did it, which was kind of lockdown really, we did release orders, and then we’ve gone back and done them chronologically. Now we are just sort of picking and mixing. I will only really do Guardians of the Galaxy repeatedly. My poor husband will sit through anything. He was in a Marvel movie. The street cred that my kids have.

Martyn: Excellent. Which one?

Lucy: Oh, the worst one. Thor 2.

Martyn: Oh no!

Lucy: But yeah, he plays a policeman that gets thrown across a car park by Natalie Portman.

Martyn: Oh, excellent. Good day at work.

Lucy: Yeah.

Martyn: I’ll look out for him. How do you write a stand-up show? I get how somebody would write a book, but what’s the process for writing stand-up?

Lucy: I mean, it’s very much, the lazy person’s way to write anything. Because you just do a little bit every now and then. And because stand-up constantly evolves. Kind of just snippets and overhead bits of conversation. I have a million notes on my phone. I’ll share some highlights. I’ll have a look. But I will write down something, that then makes no sense to me. Voyage supplies? No. No idea what that is. Lasagne-moussaka. That was because I had written a joke that involved the word lasagna and I wanted to remind myself to change it. Because moussaka is a funnier dish than lasagna. Cat bin lady. I did mention her. So yeah, I basically have loads of notes, loads of different stuff going on. I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, which I was very reluctant to do. I thought, ‘well, you know, I’m 49. Who cares whether you know what’s wrong with me or whatever.’ But it was the best thing that I’ve ever done. The psychiatrist who diagnosed me just basically explained my whole life to me and explained to me why I’m a stand-up comedian. He was like “Yeah. Your brain cannot function in a linear way and it has to go off on tangents. Your executive function is impaired”. So, you know. Things like losing your keys. Being a nightmare with being late and stuff. He’s like “basically it’s not your fault”. I wept with gratitude cuz I was so delighted to finally be absolved from thinking I’m a crap human being.

Martyn: I’ll bet

Lucy: It turns out, I’m just different and special and that’s great. Loads of comedians over lockdown, given the time for introspection, got diagnosed with ADHD or diagnosed themselves. Angela Barns and Shappi Khorsandi have been really good to talk to you. Because you sort of think, ‘Yeah. There’s a reason that we all do this job.’ It’s because we all have high self-confidence, but low self-esteem and no capacity to really concentrate for long periods of time. So, stand-up is just absolutely ideal ‘cause I can like write five minutes and then I get the instant endorphin hit of going out that night. I basically write by kind of just having an idea, then a bit later. I have another one and then I string them all together and make an hour of stuff to take to Edinburgh. Then I split it up and add some bits and make two 40-minute halves to take on tour.

Martyn: It’s interesting you say about getting diagnosed with ADHD because we recently found out my son has autism. When I was reading the list of traits, I was like. Oh, that actually sounds like me. Maybe I should get tested.

Lucy: Exactly. Well, this is the thing. It didn’t exist, like when I was a kid. Obviously, it didn’t exist, as a diagnosis. And then so many people I know. This is what happens. Your kid gets diagnosed with something and you go ‘oh, okay. Yeah, that explains a lot about my life.’ I was kind of quite sceptical about whether it’s useful to have a label and, you know, are we just kind of pathologising normal human behaviour or whatever. But, actually, I think it is just useful to know yourself. It’s just self-awareness really, isn’t it? Thank goodness to our children for getting us to know ourselves.

Martyn: How did you get into comedy?

Lucy: Loved comedy from being a kid. My mum and dad really liked Dave Allen and Billy Connolly and stuff. So that was the sort of formative influence. I was into sort of Indie music and comedy in my youth. The Balham Banana was my club of choice. I went to see Julian Clary when he used to do the Joan Collins fan club and Jo Brand, Mark Thomas, Mark Steele and Jeremy Hardy. So, I just developed this passion for comedy. Then I went to Manchester University and there was a little comedy scene growing there, with people like Caroline Aherne, Steve Coogan and John Thompson. And then I was lucky enough to go and work for Caroline Aherne on the Mrs Merton Show as a guest booker. Which was a phenomenal job to have. She was so lovely and encouraged me to follow my dream of writing comedy. And through that I thought, well, I’ll give, stand-up a go. Even though I wasn’t a natural performer and I’d never done drama or anything like that, I’d always written. I did a little gig at Alexander’s Jazz Bar in Chester. This night was run by the comedy police. These guys dressed up as policemen, and it was like a gong show. You tried to get to five minutes, but if the audience didn’t like it. They’d go ‘woo-woo-woo’ and you’d be truncheoned off the stage by these two policemen.
Luckily it went quite well. And so I just, I kind of fell into it really. But largely it was because I couldn’t hold down a proper job. I was trying to work in TV production and it was a complete disaster because I was always late and really disorganised. Then I tempt for a bit. Luckily, I found comedy and comedy found me.

Martyn: How do you handle heckling?

Lucy: I don’t get heckled anymore. I mean, in the early days, because there were sort of relatively few women doing stand-up. You would get the occasional. “Get your tits out!” or you know “make me a sandwich”. Which was always delightful. But these days, I don’t get heckled at all. Obviously, my audience being my age, they do occasionally have to get up to go to the loo. Or they make a noise when they stand up and sit down, but there’s not really any heckling. It’s all very good nature and polite. I think people don’t heckle so much anyway now. There’s a bit more awareness, that you are the one who’s likely to look like a dickhead rather than the comedian.

Martyn: Yeah, sure. How do you practice material? Do you like a work in progress?

Lucy: I do sort of previews leading up to Edinburgh. Where you sort of let people know, that it might not be very good. But generally what I try and do is just slip in bits of material to the show and see if they work or not. The lovely thing about stand-up is it’s so fluid that you can, you can have an idea and try it out that night, and then if it works, it works. And if it doesn’t, it’s gone. It’s not like doing TV or radio or Indeed podcasts. Where you have the luxury of editing. Or have to think about what works with what. You just give it a go. Then you edit as you and it’s not a pain in the ass, like editing podcasts and other things.

Martyn: Obviously you host a podcast about quizzes.

Lucy: Yeah, with Jenny Ryan.

Martyn: So, you’re a big fan of quizzes. Is there any old-school quiz show, that you would like to revive?

Lucy: Well, I mean. They did bullseye. I think for all of us, it was the definitive quiz growing up.

Martyn: Yeah.

Lucy: And anyone my age Bullseye. There’s just something about it. The combination of Jim Bowen and the contestants and the prizes. It was all of its time and lovely. Then, of course, darts. Who doesn’t love darts? So that to me is the perfect game show. But, I do think Going for Gold is again, something that we all absolutely loved. It was such a great concept, and I think a Pan-European quiz show is what we need to heal the Brexit wound.

Martyn: Yeah. Absolutely.

Lucy: And Henry Kelly, we interviewed Henry Kelly for the podcast and he’s still sharp as a tack and brilliant. So he could come back and do it again.

Martyn: Do people pitch ideas to you for your stand-up?

Lucy: Yes. Or the thing that you get is people saying. “Oh God, you’re gonna use this in one of your routines”. When they’ve just told you the dullest anecdote that you can ever possibly imagine hearing. Very little that is pitched to me makes it in, I have to say. Without being rude to anyone, that’s ever suggested something. But the thing about stand-up is, it has to be so personal, I think, to work. If it’s inauthentic, I think an audience can really sniff that out. I mean, I do occasionally work with writers. I think that comedy writers are brilliant and I have written stuff for other people and worked with other people. There’s a woman called Gabby Hutchinson Crouch, who is amazing and a man called Mike Shepherd. They will help me out and be sounding boards and write stuff based on what I’ve said. That’s just a joy and a delight to work with other people. Because it’s a bit lonely being a stand-up. That’s the only thing I would say to any aspiring stand-ups out there, is the creative process can be quite painful if you really are not having ideas and you’ve got a show to do and it’s just you on your own in a room. That can drive you slightly mad as with all writing, but you know, particularly with standup, when you know you’ve gotta go out and do it in two hours.

Martyn: What were the panel shows like to do? Obviously mock the week is no longer with us, sadly. What was that like?

Lucy: Yeah. Well, I only did that one a couple of times. It was quite Gladiatorial in the early days when I did it. So I can’t say that was a particularly relaxing time. I think I’m much better at them, as I’ve got older because I’m a bit less try hard or whatever. I like ones where you don’t really do much prep. Just a Minute and stuff are really fun to do. And I love doing The News Quiz on Radio Four.
I’m a bit more comfortable on the radio these days, to be honest. Because I think you can be a bit more discursive and it’s less sort of gag, gag, gag. And it’s a bit more sort of flights of fancy and whimsy, which is kind of what I enjoy.

Martyn: The old thing is radio still grasps people’s attention, even though people are doing other stuff as they listen. There’s something about the play of the mind. I feel that audiences maybe concentrate more on radio than they do on TV these days.

Lucy: Yeah, I mean, I love podcasts as well. I do feel like I am the luckiest person, to have been born in this era where audio entertainment is so freely available. You can switch from a sort of gritty true crime thing to two people talking about some, you know, obscure sitcom. In fact, Jenny Ryan, who I do the quizzing podcast, Fingers on Buzzers with. Really want to do a podcast about the Croft and Perry Universe. So working out where the characters in Hi-de-Hi! fit in with the characters from You Rang, M’Lord? Oh, Doctor Beeching! We keep saying we’re gonna do this cuz we’re obsessed with Su Pollard as much as anything else. But I love the fact that you can delve into any aspect of pop culture. I feel very fondly towards my favourite podcast hosts like Phoebe from criminal. I’ve never met her, but I just know that we’d get on.

Martyn: It is like you’re just hanging around with mates when you listen to a podcast.

Lucy: Yeah. It is like a lovely night at the pub sometimes. Which is obviously something that is now less available to me in real life. So yeah, I think that’s why I enjoy it so much.

Martyn: What’s the stand-up circuit been like Post covid?

Lucy: Well, I dunno really. Because the stand-up circuit is, you know, the clubs and pubs and I have been mostly just doing my own little gigs in art centres and theatres and stuff. But, I think it’s sort of back, but the Edinburgh Festival last year was kind of weird because we were all so excited. About the proper festival is back on and then nobody turned up for about the first two weeks and we were like, we’ve all made a terrible mistake. But then it sort of picked up towards the end. But I think people are just. I don’t think it’s even just my age. I think that people are a little bit more tentative about going out and making plans now. There’s definitely a lot more wiggle room for cancellation and you know, people don’t buy tickets. Oh, well, I know I don’t buy tickets to stuff until the last possible minute because I’m always thinking, well, maybe we’ll get ill, or the world will end or there’ll be a train strike. The whole entertainment and hospitality industry is really suffering at the minute and, you know. I one-hundred per cent support the strikes. The country is in an absolute state, isn’t it?

Martyn: Yeah.

Lucy: I think comedy is suffering in the same way that everything else is. But has never been more needed. Of course. I was doing a gig with someone last night and I was saying. “oh, you know it’s pathetic what we do, isn’t it?” And he was like. “No, no. The world’s so awful that comedians are basically key workers now”.

Martyn: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. We need levity.

Lucy: I was like “I don’t think we can say that”. But it is nice to get out.

Martyn: Yeah. Well, it’s weird for me watching the railway strikes. Because I worked on the railway for 11 years.

Lucy: Oh, did you?

Martyn: Yeah. Never had a strike in that in that entire time. But yeah, it’s weird watching. I see former colleagues on the news being interviewed. It’s strange.

Lucy: Well, you left and it went downhill.

Martyn: Exactly. I was doing the job of four people. So what’s Edinburgh like to do normally, because it sounds like an anxiety nightmare to me.

Lucy: Well. It is, but it’s also the most fun you’ll ever have. So it’s high-risk, high reward. For those who have never been, it’s a month of, you know, theatre, comedy, dance, magic and everything being on in every tiny unsuitable room in the city, that they can find. The first year I went up to the festival, I was doing a show with other comedians and we were in the Sea Scouts meeting hall, which was cold and drafty. And every now and then during the show, some Sea Scouts would just wander in and be slightly confused about what we were doing there. But for comedians, it’s like a holiday camp really, cuz you go up to the most beautiful city in the world for a month and you get to sort of swan around looking at pictures of your own face on posters and going out, drinking with your mates until the wee small hours of the morning. And then coincidentally doing a show. It brings out the best in everybody’s creativity because you go and watch other things. I will go and watch more theatre and dance. Things I would never dream of going to see in normal times, really. And I’ll see all this stuff in Edinburgh. It all feeds into your sort of creative process, you end up going. ‘Oh, maybe I could stage my show like that dance piece’. Or that theatre show has made me think about an aspect of my life that I’d never thought about before. It’s absolutely brilliant. And it is also just a really good kind of solid drinking session for a month.

Martyn: Well, what more could you want?

Lucy: Exactly. It’s a perfect time.

Martyn: Alright, Lucy, I know you’re very busy, so I’m gonna wrap it up now. Thank you so much for joining me for this.

Lucy: No, thank you. Really appreciate it.

Martyn: Cheers. Bye.

Lucy: Bye.

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Wake-Up Call launches 13th of January.

Running Down Corridors Episode 1 series 2

We’re back and it’s about time! In the first episode of series 2. Martyn, Chris and Sam discuss Jodie Whittaker’s final outing in Doctor Who. 

This podcast is part of The Bad Wilf Network. Check out www.badwilf.com, for information on all our other shows.

Artwork by Penny Smallshire.

Check out BeeblePete’s review of Doctor Who am I?

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Doctor Who Am I

Matthew Jacobs wrote the screenplay of the film Doctor Who, starring Paul McGann in the title role. In the documentary film Doctor Who Am I, filmmaker Vanessa Yuille follows the British writer from his home in San Francisco into American Doctor Who fandom, particularly the conventions Gallifrey One and Long Island Doctor Who. Jacobs becomes our celebrity tour guide through this subculture but it’s signalled from the start that this is really his story, a personal journey that’s recalled and developed throughout the course of the film.

Drawn into the role of convention celebrity, we see Jacobs being rather flip with a fan early on as he sells an autograph from his table. We get the obligatory con-doc interviews with cosplayers, notably one identifying herself as a Time Fairy, with a lit-up dress and spinning orange scarves representing ‘regeneration energy’. She’s a great example of how fans wrap myth round themselves only to extend it with their own imagination. Art inspires art, and in response to the work he’s done, there’s been something waiting on account for Matthew Jacobs.

In writing the 1996 movie – which failed in its attempt to launch Paul McGann’s Doctor into a series – Jacobs confesses to “two fatal errors: we made him half human and we had him kiss.” Yet those two points have proved influential to The Doctor’s later relationships with Earth and its people. It seems more likely that beyond its poor TV scheduling, the show was just too weighed down by its own mythology to capture fresh imaginations. A good half hour is devoted to the star’s predecessor in the title role.

Matthew talks with former colleagues Paul McGann, leading lady Daphne Ashbrook and producer Philip Segal at conventions and in the workplace. Their own takes on Doctor Who and its fandom have developed over many years and it’s welcome input to a writer who for years actively avoided this world.

Perhaps not entirely fearlessly, Jacobs sits down with his critics in their memorabilia-strewn homes. Yet interest lies not in taking an old film to pieces but rather in what’s happening to Matthew Jacobs now. For each fan getting disappointment off their chest there are two recounting tales of delight and in one case even gratitude, from a fan who escaped into the ‘TV movie’ to survive great personal trauma. Soon Mr Jacobs begins to realise his journey through this documentary is fulfilling a similar role.

Trailer:

Doctor Who Am I is available now on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital and in cinemas. For details:

Star Wars: Ahsoka starts filming this month

As the first series of The Book of Boba Fett comes to a close, Lucasfilm is gearing up to begin production on Ahsoka, the upcoming live-action Star Wars series. This is a series that a lot of Star Wars fans are very excited about because we finally get to see Ahsoka in action, in her own series. As she embarks on a quest to find Ezra and Thrawn.

Production on Star Wars: Ahsoka will begin by the end of the month, according to Production Weekly.

The Mandalorian Series 3 wraps production in March. If this is the case, we may expect to see both shows launch before the end of the year.

Rosario Dawson will reprise her role as Ahsoka Tano, with a supporting cast including Natasha Liu, who is said to be playing a live-action version of Sabine Wren. A character who originated in Star Wars: Rebels.

Trailer: Bel-Air

In 2019, a fan of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air proposed rebooting the comedy as a gritty drama, even creating a faux trailer to depict how it may appear.

Three years later, Will Smith, the show’s lead, has made it a reality, and the first official teaser has been released.

The title character continues to migrate from his hometown of West Philadelphia to his aunt and uncle’s fancy estate in a wealthy LA suburb.

However, the show’s tone has been twisted and turned upside down.

The new show, simply titled ‘Bel-Air’, is a serious drama, as opposed to the original comedy of the 1990s original.

The original saw Will move in with his rich relative, after getting into a fight with a local bully. That still happens in the remake, but guns and police are involved. Will’s Uncle, Judge Philip Banks-played by Welshman, Adrian Holmes, pulls some strings to get Will out of trouble.

The new trailer also introduces us to the new incarnations of cousins Carlton, Ashley and Hilary, as well as butler Geoffrey, played by Jimmy Akingbola.

Will Smith collaborated on the new show with Morgan Cooper, an aspiring filmmaker who created the original teaser.

Smith said:

“Three years ago, my guy Morgan Cooper uploaded his fan trailer to YouTube, showing how he envisioned the Fresh Prince as a drama. Now, here is the first full look at his retelling of the story that’s always been so close to my heart.”

Spoiler-Free Review: Cobra Kai series 4

This weekend, fan-favourite Cobra Kai returns to Netflix for its fourth series.

In this series, we see Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) pair up with his long-term enemy, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). The duo has put aside their differences and merged their classes, in order of giving their students a chance at winning the tournament against the Cobra Kai dojo, now managed by John Kreese (Martin Kove).
This was never going to be an easy match, especially now that Kreese’s old war buddy, Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) has returned. Everyone is on the edge and unsure of what to expect.

This series returns to a more character-driven narrative, that some fans may have felt was missing from series 3. Thomas Ian Griffith is clearly having the time of his life, playing a complete psychopath and he’s exactly what the show needed. Johnny’s estranged son, Robbie (Tanner Buchanan) has joined Cobra Kai and is teaching them everything he learned from Daniel and Miyagi-Do. Samatha (Mary Mouser) has fully embraced Johnny’s “strike-first” attitude.

There are some twists and turns that I won’t spoil here. We also get to see a lot more of Daniel’s son, Anthony LaRusso (Griffin Santopietro). This is nice, as he’s mostly just been in the background for a lot of the show. We’re also introduced to a new character, Kenny (Dallas Dupree Young).

It’s a fantastic set of episodes that move the story forward and set up the future of the franchise. I came away from this extremely excited for series 5. However, the first eight episodes do sometimes feel like they’re just treading water until the tournament in the last two.

Series 5 has already been greenlit, so I can’t wait to see where they take this franchise next.

Cobra Kai returns to Netflix on New Year’s Eve.

The outlaws to return for a second series

The Outlaws, a BBC/Amazon co-production, created by Stephen Merchant (The Office) and Elgin James (Mayans M.C.), will be returning for a second series in 2022.

The comic thriller follows seven convicted criminals, as they complete their community service in Bristol, United Kingdom. The second series has already been filmed and is a direct continuation of series 1, in an unusual move by the BBC, both series were shot back-to-back.

Oscar-winner Christopher Walken (Catch Me If You Can), Stephen Merchant, Rhianne Barreto (Honour), Gamba Cole (Soon Gone: A Windrush Chronicle), Darren Boyd (Killing Eve), Clare Perkins (EastEnders), Eleanor Tomlinson (Poldark), Jessica Gunning (Back), Charles Babalola (Bancroft), Nina Wadia (Goodness Gracious Me), Tom Hanson (Brassic) and Aiyana Goodfellow (Small Axe). Julia Davis (Sally4Ever), Dolly Wells (Dracula), Ian McElhinney (Game of Thrones) and Claes Bang (Dracula) have all reprised their roles.

According to the BBC, The Outlaws has been their biggest comedy launch in 2021, with 11 million views on iPlayer.

Series 2 will broadcast on BBC One and iPlayer in the UK and Amazon Prime, worldwide.

Personally, I can’t wait for the second series. The first was an utter joy to watch. If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Episode 249: It’s a sin

Martyn is joined by producer, writer, director Guy Lambert to discuss Russell T Davies’ new drama ‘It’s a sin’.

The duo discusses episodes 1-5, so there are spoilers.

It’s a sin follows a group of friends, all in their late teens and early twenties, who move to London in 1981 and have their lives turned upside down by HIV/AIDS, spanning a decade until 1991.

The podcast is available from all good podcast services, such as but not limited to Spotify, Amazon Music, PodchaserPlayer FM, Stitcher, and Apple Podcasts.

We also have a Smartlink.

Check out our Youtube.

Equipment used in the creation of this feature was purchased through a grant from Graeae and The Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

If you’d like to support the show, then please shop via our Amazon link. A small percentage goes our way, at no extra cost to you.

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Review-Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy

Following last year’s festive specials, we’re back in Scatterbrook accompanying Worzel Gummidge on another madcap adventure. As with the last two, ‘Saucy Nancy’ is written and directed by Executive Producer Mackenzie Crook.

Worzel is rich, for a scarecrow. He’s found £20 and the money is burning a hole in his pocket, he wants to buy a door. So he enlists ‘the chillun’ Susan (India Brown) and John (Thierry Wickens) to help him find one. Whilst at a salvage yard, he stumbles across his old foul-mouthed friend, Saucy Nancy (Shirley Henderson). The sea is calling Nancy and she wants to get back to it, our trio of heroes vow to help her.

The two specials last year were undoubtedly the highlight of the festive period. This year is no different. This is a well-written and well-directed family adventure, bursting with heart and humour. Once again, Brown and Wickens feel like brother and sister and the entire cast have such natural chemistry, that a walking talking scarecrow seems like the most normal thing in the world. Shirley Henderson is an absolutely wonderful addition, in all her (scarecrow) sweary ways. There’s also a great turn from Venessa Redgrave as “Peg”.

Steve Pemberton and Rosie Cavaliero take more of a back seat in this, as Mr and Mrs Braithwaite, but they’re both still excellent in their respective roles. Mr Braithwaite has even softened to the kids “these two are different, they’re keepers” he tells his wife.

After the year we’ve had, it was extremely comforting slipping back into the innocent world of Worzel Gummidge. This show is about love, hope and trust, which is what we could all do with right now.

Mackenzie Crook has once again proved, that he is more than a worthy successor to Jon Pertwee. Ten Acre Field is in very safe hands.

Worzel Gummidge: Saucy Nancy – airs tonight at 5:55pm on BBC One. 

Review-The Ghost of Christmas (Ghosts Christmas special)

Alison and Mike are hosting Christmas at Button House, with his family joining them. Mike has taken control and is determined everything run as smoothly as possible. However, with a house full of ghosts and interfering parents, it’s not long before “the incredible sulk” has one of his annual meltdowns. As for the ghosts, they’re not big fans of Christmas.

It turns out the festive season isn’t much fun if you’re dead, Julian says “it’s just not the same when you’re dead. Can’t drink booze, can’t flirt with the filly’s at the Christmas Party if you can’t do that. What’s the point?”.



It’s Julian that takes most the focus of the special when a new arrival forces him to confront his old behaviour. Throughout the episode, he has a series of revelations that help all the ghosts rediscover the joy of Christmas.

The other ghosts mostly take a supporting role, with The Captain (Ben Willbond) taking offence to the Queen’s speech being televised “an officer and a gentleman should not be privy to the colour and thickness of the Queen’s curtain’s”. Robin (Laurence Rickard) believes Christmas is “just a fad”.

The special is full of everything you’d expect from this show. As always, the cast is uniformly great, Charlotte Ritchie and Kiell Smith-Bynoe feel like an authentic couple. Mike’s family feel like a real family, his sisters irritate him in the way only siblings can. The jokes vary from clever to crude, with strong performances all round.

The Ghosts Christmas special is the perfect way to tide us over until series 3.

The Ghost of Christmas airs on BBC One, at 20:30 on December 23rd.