Recommended second chance
Political satire The Thick Of It starts shooting a much-anticipated new series in March but in the meantime, Malcolm Tucker himself, actor Peter Capaldi, has a treat in store for viewers. Cricklewood Greats charts the history of a fictional film studio from 1900 through to its demise in the Eighties, featuring spoofs of well-known movie genres. Kicking off in the silent movie era with The Flying Pie through classic characters such as Harold The Hobo, nicknamed ‘The Little Drunk’, the wartime talkies, British Hammer Horror and beyond, the lovingly crafted mockumentary is a subject close to Peter’s heart. TV Choice caught up with him…
You must have had fun writing and filming Cricklewood Greats.
Yes, the great thing was we actually created these characters from scratch and cast really good actors to shoot the clips. There was very little money so we had to be very sure of what we were doing and I storyboarded the entire thing. It went hand in hand with a lot of improvisation with me hosting it and all that.
Is it something you’re interested in?
Yes, I’m interested in the stories of actors from the past who disappeared. They interest me more than people who went from success to success.
Your spoof movie stars, such as Arthur Sim, Florrie Fontaine and Lionel Crisp, are classic. Did you base them on real people?
Arthur Sim really started off being Georges Melies and I loved the idea of him coming from Blackpool. It’s really an excuse for me to make little films and it’s cheaper. I’m fascinated by the stories of people who were in the movies. People like Ingrid Pitt who was a great Hammer Horror star and only died in 2010. When I read her obituary it said she had been brought up by her mother in a concentration camp and they had escaped and made their way across Europe. She had an incredible life and I loved that idea.
Cult film-maker Terry Gilliam appears as himself, how was that?
He’s incredibly kind, generous and great fun. He was word-perfect on the script and he was also making sure I was getting all the shots I needed as a director. He’s one of the great unsung heroes of the British film industry.
Could this pilot be developed into a series?
We wrote a lot of stories for this film but we could only use a few of them. A lot are musical characters so it would be nice to do Cricklewood: The Musical Years. People like Frankie Valentino, a rather overweight troubadour who gets caught up in the rock'n'roll boom and is saved by David Bromley, king of glam rock. There’s also a puppet war between a celebrated hand puppet and another more futuristic marionette!
What are you up to at the moment?
I’m filming the second series of The Hour series for the BBC, and then The Thick Of It. The show will be moving with the political times, which is interesting. Things are going on with Malcolm Tucker that are entertaining and funny.
Is it true that people often ask you to swear at them as Malcolm?
Yes, but in real life it’s not what I would do, so perhaps I should put that away in a box!