David Mitchell announced this week that ‘Back’ a brand new sitcom starring himself and Robert Webb, and written by Simon Blackwell has been commissioned for Channel 4 for a full series and will begin filming in the Spring to be broadcast later in the year. The pilot was filmed ‘back ‘in April (see what I did there?) and here is all the information we have at the moment from the initial press release to the titbits that were gleamed from the filming of the pilot in Stroud.
The plot follows Stephen Nicholls (played by David) a slightly downtrodden man who is the son of local legend Laurie Nicholls. After his father’s death Stephen inherits the family’s pub. His mother Ellen (played by Julia Deakin) who is described as being’bohemian’ and sister Cass (played by Louise Brealey) show little interest in making a go of it themselves being ‘creative’ and having ‘weed to buy and energy-centres to rebalance.’The cast picture also reveals a role for Geoffrey McGivern as Laurie’s erratic brother Uncle Geoff.
With his dad now dead, Stephen sees it as his big chance to shine. But when his charming and charismatic former foster-brother Andrew (played by Robert Webb) turns up out of the blue at Laurie’s funeral, Stephen’s plans go awry. Andrew is back, and keen to rejoin the closest thing he’s ever had to a family…
Charismatic Andrew has lived in Sydney, Amsterdam, Chicago, the Loire valley and Berlin but crucially, spent five formative months in 1989 fostered by Laurie and Ellen as a 15-year-old. To Stephen, Andrew was just one of a string of 30-odd foster kids who he spent his childhood resenting. But Andrew remembers every single detail and sees that time as the most important of his life. Back’s IMDB page shows a casting for a young Andrew which means we can expect flashback scenes to Mitchell and Webb’s characters as children.
Ellen loves Andrew. Cass loves Andrew. Uncle Geoff loves Andrew. But Stephen doesn’t love Andrew. He thinks he’s a glib, dangerous sociopath who’s about to steal his family, his business and his life.
A leaked page of the pilot script also reveals the character Alison who we can assume is Stephen’s girlfriend. Stephen is divorced so there is also a possibility it could be his ex-wife.
Back is being made by Mitchell & Webb’s own production company That Mitchell & Webb Company in conjunction with Big Talk productions. It will be the first project they’ve made with their own production company since ‘Ambassadors’.
Channel 4’s Phil Clarke said of the show: “To have Mitchell & Webb and Simon Blackwell working together is a very exciting prospect. It’s a unique configuration of some seriously big comedy minds. Simon has written a very funny and clever script with a strong emotional heart that takes Robert Webb and David Mitchell in a new and genuinely intriguing direction.”
Which sounds very much like it will continue on the comedy drama route Mitchell & Webb were so great at in ‘Ambassadors’. With creatives on board from both ‘Ambassadors’ and ‘Peep Show’ we could be in for something very special.
Kenton Allen from Big Talk Productions said: “Blackwell, Mitchell and Webb are some of the finest comedy minds I’ve ever encountered, a supergroup of incredibly witty individuals. The show was an absolute pleasure to develop with them and I only hope the audience will laugh as much when they see Back as I have when spending time with these masters of their craft.”
It’s unclear if this hints at a studio audience but I’m willing to wager Back won’t have a laughter track especially as the pilot was never screened in front of one.
Simon Blackwell himself said: “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to write for David and Robert again (after having previously written for Peep Show), and very exciting to be surrounded by such a superb cast, director and production team.”
David said ‘His (Simon Blackwell’s) writing is deep, dark, warm and funny – like a hot tub brimming with laughing gravy.’ Robert Webb added: “That sounds disgusting.”.
If anymore information comes to light I’ll post it here.