Kevin Bishop - Perfect comic timing

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

On the eve of the next series of The Kevin Bishop Show, Julian Hall shares a doughnut peach and a chat with the man himself.

I’m looking forward to the second series of ‘Potatoes and Tomatoes’, for that’s what the elfin actor and comedian, Kevin Bishop, claims he would have rather have called his sketch show.

It was either that or “Kev +” to highlight the Sky box format that he uses to serve up a barrage of pop culture pastiches. “When we suggested that they [Channel 4] said ‘how about Kevin Bishop+?’ and I was like ‘guys, we’re missing a trick here, it’s a syllable thing.’”

Ultimately The Kevin Bishop Show is a title that is matter-of-fact about the contents of its proverbial tin and probably the best way to flag up that this was ‘son of Star Stories’, the magnificently silly series of celebrity skits that propelled Bishop away from his acting background and into comedian country where he now roams free still taking pot shots at celebs but mixing in sketches such as his inspired interactive take on ‘Sophie’s Choice: The Musical’.

Over a lunch that consists partly of a comedy shaped ‘doughnut peach’ Bishop tells me that not only was the title of the show a matter for compromise but also the series itself: “When Channel 4 told me that they were going to give me my own show I thought that a sitcom was the obvious progression was from Star Stories, I wasn’t keen on sketch because it seemed like a saturated market. I had a sitcom in development with them but they cleverly held off until it was a case of a sketch show or nothing.” Some might call that manipulation but arguably it was a decision that turned out well if you’re a fan of the show. If not then there’s always FM, the ITV2 sitcom Bishop stars in with Chris O’Dowd. Someone at Channel 4 was possibly resting their case as I wrote that.

Having survived the terrors of being a child actor (Grange Hill and the film Muppet Treasure Island number among his child actor credits) and then 60 hour shifts as a chef, Bishop managed to carve out a career in TV drama, theatre and even French films in the Nineties, all the while studiously avoiding soaps. A briefly recurring role in My Family in 2001 eventually led to a proliferation of pre-Star Stories comedy roles including part of the Spoons sketch series cast.

Though the 29 year old has always kept his hand in with theatre, drama and has an open invitation to go to France to make more films he knows that he’s now crossed a line into comedy and feels that there is a journey to make with it.

“Once you are in you have to commit. If you waiver it will read on screen. I think that’s why I think comedy is only successful for young people. You have to be fearless. It’s like old professional footballers who have been injured once or twice and don’t tackle as hard as they used to. It’s the same for comedians. Look at Horne and Corden. Next time they may not go in as hard as they did after getting burned, and you can say the same about Jonathan Ross after Sachsgate too.”

Going in hard for Bishop means sitting down with his producer Lee Hupfield adhering to strict office hours and coming up with 350 sketches for a series, experiencing a discipline that was hitherto unknown to him as an actor and the onset of a different mindset.

“Sometimes I find myself sitting at a table with friends and family and reminiscing about people that would be good for the show. I think all the time in sketch mode now. I was walking round IKEA the other day and I was talking to a guy with a ‘Can I help you?’ badge on and I asked him 'can you tell me where these chairs are?' and he said ‘I don’t speak no English.’ Immediately you are in ‘Sketchville’. You train your brain to be receptive to that and it becomes easy.”

A self-confessed subconscious student of Paul Whitehouse, Bishop gives a priceless example of someone he has met and who has ended up in the show almost unedited: “The Michael Rockerfeller character in this series was based on an assistant in a department store in America who I met with my brother. When my brother asked him about an item of clothing this guy went [here Bishop goes from his normal Kent twang to an immaculate camp American accent] ‘Oh my god are you from London? Oh my god I love London, Princess Diana, why did they take her from us? She was so tragic. I’ve got a tattoo of her on my ass do you wanna see it?’ Obviously we didn’t want to see it but he showed us anyway. He loved England but knew nothing about it and was saying things like ‘I hear that Scotchland Yard they were saying that the Prince of Wales, ya know, the Prince of Charles…’ We just had to write him. But had I not met him it wouldn’t have worked if someone had written it for me."

Bishop does collaborate with other writers of course, the show’s turnover of sketches wouldn’t be sustainable if he didn’t, but he draws the line at some of the one-dimensional ideas of which he mentions have been submitted; Mr Spunkyman and Mr Stupidman among them. More quality submissions are subject to the principle of ‘use it or lose it’; deciding immediately on submissions and this heading off interest from other sketch shows such as Armstrong and Miller. However, the sketches generated by Hupfield and Bishop can be a source of consternation too.

“We have a similar sense of humour and agree on most things, but there are tussles and sometimes we won’t speak for a couple of hours. There was one sketch that re-enacted the road safety ad where the girl comes back alive. I said ‘no, you are not killing a child in the name of comedy, that’s offensive to me because I have got little sisters’. However, I have to be honest and say that it’s hilarious to me to do ‘Fred West Side Story’, so what’s offensive to me isn’t offensive to others. This particular sketch sparked a huge debate and the whole group was split. One of the cameramen said ‘well I think it’s funny and I’ve got daughters’ but it didn’t happen.”

In the area of celebrity, however, Bishop sees that he has a duty to spoof certain people such as ‘man of the moment Simon Cowell though even here he maintains a right to veto. “I’ve been told ‘do Jeremy Clarkson’ but I don’t watch him. I don’t mind him but I’ll only spoof people I watch so someone like Harry Hill or Bruce Parry because I liked Amazon.”

The spirit of the show is encapsulated, to some extent by the lyrics of its closing song Adam and the Ants’ Dog Eat Dog that runs “You may not like the things we do/Only idiots ignore the truth.” The second series promises some longer and truthfully-observed set-pieces like Michael Rockerfeller and The Trustafarians, a BBC 3 show about some posh kids who find everything ‘a bit annoying,’ as well as the fast-paced skits fans are used to, one of which includes a Frost/Nixon spoof, Parky/Emu.

The sometimes zany nature of the show has inevitably had US producers sit up and take note. They see the energy of the show as easily transferable and would be happy to substitute the Premiership for the NFL and make similar cultural adjustments. But, despite Bishop’s transferability he’s no plans to make a Stateside move just yet. While the money thrown at pilots could make series over here Bishop knows first hand some of the reasons why, figuratively speaking, ‘cousins never marry.’

“I gave some American producers the Star Stories DVD and those that could be bothered to watch it saw the Tom Cruise one. One guy went ‘…you can’t do that it’s Tom Cruise man…[we’ve done it]…yeah but you can’t do that on TV…[it’s already gone out]…what you’re talking about Scientology, are you fucking nuts?…[er, look we’ve done it it’s been on telly and everyone loved and we’ve had no complaints]…has Tom Cruise seen this?!”

As Bishop reminds, while the barriers to parody have come down over the years that doesn’t mean that it naturally follows that it has to plummet down to the lowest common denominator: “Anyone who is famous is fair game in a sketch show but we don’t set out destroy anyone. I don’t think it’s funny to do that, it’s bit like being at a party and someone having the piss taken out of them all night. It reaches a point where it’s not funny any more. I like to think that Simon Cowell watches his sketch and likes it.”

Imitation as flattery will be the perception of anyone who has seen the FX show No Signal which bears an uncanny resemblance to The Kevin Bishop Show, offering yet another plug for the Sky TV format. No Signal was aired after Bishop’s show which was lucky for Bishop and he considers it another stroke of luck that it was “terrible”.

“A friend of mine who worked on it told me that everyone was on set one day and apparently someone said ‘guys has anyone seen The Kevin Bishop Show? No? Well, it’s kind of like this. How much like this? Exactly the same…’ I thought that was a lie and he said honest to god they genuinely didn’t know that it had been done. Thank god we pipped them to the post it would really have fucked things up.”

Once again comedy and timing prove they are inextricably linked.

The Kevin Bishop Show, 31 July, C4, 10pm

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent