15 January 2016

Simon Callow is The Rebel in new Gold scripted comedy

Actor Simon Callow is cast in The Rebel (3×30”) a series inspired by Andrew Birch’s long-running cartoon strip in Oldie Magazine. The Rebel is produced by Retort, the FremantleMedia UK label specialising in scripted comedy, and stars Simon Callow (Shakespeare in Love, Four Weddings and a Funeral) as leading man and rebel Henry Palmer.

“The Rebel is a wildly funny, edgy and sometimes rather searing new sitcom which could hardly be more now. Henry is very, very angry, and he has much to be angry about: essentially everything in the world around him. He sees himself as a fearless exposer of cant and folly. Others sometimes have a different view of him. It’s a part I can relate to very, very easily,” says Simon Callow.

The Rebel is Henry Palmer, a near 70-year-old who looks every bit the respectable, fine, upstanding Brighton resident.  Except that underneath it all he’s not. For 50 years he’s been putting his youthful past behind him; or perhaps more accurately, brushing it under the floral patterned carpet. In the Sixties he was a Mod, a regular visitor to Brighton on his mirrored up Vespa scooter, dressed in a Parka with a bulls-eye on the back, ready for a rumble with the Rockers on their motorbikes.  Recently bereaved by the loss of his long-suffering wife, Henry shares this adjustment with his slightly impossible daughter, Cath and her utterly ineffectual husband, Jeremy.  The Rebel in Henry never really went away.  It was just brewing…

Adapted from his own cartoon strip series The Rebel, Private Eye cartoonist Andrew Birch, has created an anarchic, anti-establishment pensioner on steroids for the 21st Century.

UKTV’s director of commissioning Richard Watsham, and general manager for Gold Steve North ordered the three-part series for the channel. The Rebel will be directed and produced by Vadim Jean (Leon the Pig Farmer, Terry Pratchett’s The Hogfather, The Color of Magic). Jon Rolph, Retort Managing Director, is executive producer, with senior commissioning editor Simon Lupton executive producing for UKTV.

Simon Lupton, Senior Commissioning Editor says, “We are very excited to be working with Andrew and Retort on The Rebel, and are really looking forward to bringing such an irrepressible character to life. Henry is going to demonstrate that young people don’t have a monopoly on anarchy, and I suspect he’ll ultimately bring out the rebel in us all.  The marriage of an actor of the extraordinary calibre of Simon Callow, to a character with so much authenticity, heart and energy makes for an incredibly enticing addition to our original shows on Gold.”

Jon Rolph, Managing Director of Retort, and Executive Producer, comments: “Henry might be talking about his generation, but he’s refusing to fade away – Andrew Birch has created an everyday hero, and one we all should want to be when we grow up.  We can’t wait for the brilliant Simon Callow to bring to our screens Henry’s tireless rebellion against the petty, the lazy, the small-minded and the stupid things that incite us all to take a stand.”

Steve North, general manager for Gold says, “Gold is the home to some of comedy’s greatest characters who kick-back against society – they are the grown-up archetypal naughty child and it is enormous fun to watch – from Del Boy and Victor Meldrew through to Blackadder and Monty Python.  I’m excited that we are making The Rebel and to have Simon Callow on board to play Henry, who will be bringing warmth and charm to a character that I can’t wait to see.”

Gold continues to attract top comedy names to the channel for its original commissions, including John Hannah, Jo Joyner, Sarah Alexander (Marley’s Ghosts), Robert Lindsay and Maureen Lipman (Bull) with the shows performing strongly, pulling in audiences upwards of 300k individuals per episode.

The Rebel launches on Gold later this year and joins the line up of original scripted comedies set to launch on the channel, including Comic Strip Presents…The Red Top starring Russell Tovey and Maxine Peake, and Do Not Disturb starring Catherine Tate and Sian Gibson.