Peep Show co-writer Sam Bain to publish 'darkly comic novel'

Alice Jones' Arts Diary: The novel takes the form of a series of letters from an obsessed fan to a TV game show hostess
  • @alicevjones

Sam Bain, one half of the duo behind Peep Show and Fresh Meat among other gems, has published a book. Bain wrote Your Truly, Pierre Stone 20 years ago when he was studying for an MA in Novel Writing at Manchester University, where he also met his writing partner Jesse Armstrong.

The darkly comic novel takes the form of a series of letters from an obsessed fan to a TV game show hostess, Marie. It was inspired by the fan mail his mother, Rosemary Frankau, used to receive when she starred in Terry and June, says Bain. “One letter stood out. It was very polite but it became a strange diary of his day. I thought how odd that he should write all this to a woman he'd never met.”

The book was first published in 2002 and is now being reissued as an eBook. “I actually wrote it the same year that Hello! magazine launched. It was the first wave in what became a tidal wave of celebrity culture. Being a fan is very bizarre. It's a fictional relationship. We don't know these people at all. And yet we probably know more about Brad Pitt and Danny Dyer than we do about the people next door.”

Bain is currently working with Armstrong on the final series of Peep Show and Babylon, a police sitcom, to be directed by Danny Boyle. “I would like to write another novel but I just don’t have time”, he adds. “One day, though. When you write a novel you’re the director, writer, actor and crew all in one. You don’t have to collaborate at all.” 

Channel film

A low-budget British film about the first person to swim the English Channel in 1875 will have its premiere in Cannes next year. The Greatest Englishman is directed by Justin Hardy and executive produced by James Salter, who swam the Channel himself last year. Warren Brown, aka Luther’s DS Ripley, stars Captain Matthew Webb. “He turned out to be a fine swimmer but absolutely terrified of the depths. He only confessed to it after a week in the Channel. He just had to man up”, Hardy tells me. “We didn’t want some Old Etonian or Harrovian swimming English wimp. Most actors today look like thin streaks of piss. Warren fills his woollen shorts.”

Hannah Tointon co-stars as does the Sightseers actor Steve Oram as Webb’s charlatan swimming coach. British Sea Power are writing the score.  “They compose epic, lyrical music about the British people’s relationship with the sea. We couldn’t have found a better fit”, says Hardy, a historical film director whose previous films include The Relief of Belsen and the TV series 1066.

The only problem so far has been the British weather. The three-week shoot took place during last summer’s heatwave. “So we’re having to grade the sea to make it look more grey and cold”, says Hardy. “At the moment it feels more like the story of the first man to swim the Caribbean.” 

Being a Man

It’s about time that men were given a platform so the Southbank Centre is staging a festival, “Being a Man”, in the new year. Grayson Perry, Nick Hornby and Billy Bragg will all feature in the weekend of events, including panel discussions on porn addiction, homophobia and “what is the appropriate response to feminist ideas?” The idea is to deconstruct the idea of “a man’s world” and dismantle some stereotypes. Not all stereotypes, though. “Lunch* and refreshments will be provided (and there's beer and table football on hand too)”, says the website. “*Vegetarian options are available.”


Among the many notable things about Nymphomaniac is its length. It is four hours long but Lars von Trier's cut is five and a half hours. The press notes say that the main change in the abridged version is that “the most explicit close-ups of genitals” have been edited out. Which leaves 90 minutes of extra genital close-ups for the DVD. Not counting the 25 or so penises and labia containing an eye that appear in the current cut.