Spinal Tap's Christopher Guest to make 'mockumentary' series starring Chris O'Dowd
Guest will write, direct and appear in his BBC One debut 'Family Tree'
As Nigel Tufnel, the raddled English rocker who wants his amp to go “one louder”, Christopher Guest secured his place in Hollywood comedy lore. Now the writer of This Is Spinal Tap has been lured to BBC2 for a new “mockumentary” television series, starring the in-demand actor, Chris O’Dowd.
The BBC announced that Guest, who spent much of his childhood in London, will make his debut for the corporation with Family Tree, an eight-part comedy series, co-written and co-created by the California-based star.
Shot in the same, fake-documentary, single camera style as This Is Spinal Tap, Family Tree partners Guest with O’Dowd, the IT Crowd actor from Ireland, who has been elevated to the movie world’s A-list following his breakthrough role in the hit film Bridesmaids.
Family Tree follows the journey of 30-year-old Tom Chadwick (O’Dowd), who suffers a crisis of identity after losing his job and girlfriend.
When Chadwick inherits a mysterious box of belongings from a great aunt that he never met, he starts investigating his family lineage and uncovers a whole world of unusual stories and characters, allied to a growing sense of who he is and who his real family are.
The series, which will require the actors to improvise material, is a partnership with HBO, the US cable channel behind Game Of Thrones and The Wire.
Co-written by Jim Piddock, Guest’s collaborator on Best In Show, his 2000 comic film about dog competitions, Family Tree will also feature Nina Conti, the comedian daughter of Tom, as Chadwick’s sister Bea and Tom Bennett (The Hunt For Tony Blair, Phoneshop) playing his best friend Pete.
The trans-Atlantic production will also feature Guest’s regular big-screen comic collaborators including Fred Willard, Ed Begley Jr. and Michael McKean, who played guitarist Michael St. Hubbins in This Is Spinal Tap.
Janice Hadlow, Controller BBC2, said: “I am delighted to welcome Christopher Guest to BBC Television. It will be his first television series for British audiences and one I am proud to have here on the BBC. It has a stellar cast led by the fantastic Chris O’Dowd and is an exciting collaboration with NBCU International and HBO. Family Tree will form a key part of the channel’s comedy next year.”
Guest, who will write, direct and appear in the series, said: “I am also delighted to welcome myself to BBC Television. I am very lucky to be working with an incredibly talented cast. Chris O’Dowd has been on my radar ever since he was a child actor in Wales.”
The 64 year-old enjoys strong ties with Britain. The son of the 4th Baron Haden-Guest, a British diplomat attached to the United Nations, Christopher spent long periods of his childhood in the United Kingdom.
Inheriting his father’s title, Guest regularly attended the House of Lords, with his wife, the actress Jamie Lee Curtis, until the majority of hereditary peers lost their right to sit in 1999.
After the success of the 1984 heavy metal spoof, Guest turned his satirical eye to the folk boom of the early 60s with A Mighty Wind (2003) and Hollywood’s pretensions in For Your Consideration (2006).
Chris O’Dowd said: “I’m terribly excited and monumentally under-qualified to work on an improvised show with Chris Guest. I call him Chris ‘coz we are friends. He calls me George. I don’t know why.” Filming on Family Tree will continue until early next year, on location in the UK and Los Angeles, with the show due to air on BBC2 and HBO next Spring.
Family Tree is BBC2’s second comedy collaboration with a US studio. Episodes, the television industry satire, starring Matt LeBlanc and Stephen Mangan, produced with the Showtime cable network, has been commissioned for a third series.
TV reviewBroadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair
Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere
TVThe Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Frank Lampard's face drops when Holly Willoughby introduces him as a 'Man City legend'
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
- 4 Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
- 5 Stephen Hawking endorses Labour in the General Election
Fast & Furious 7 overtakes Frozen to become 5th highest grossing movie of all time
Poldark, series 1 finale, review: How a costume drama became a Sunday night swoon-fest
Al Pacino admits he was nearly fired from The Godfather and it's still his most 'difficult role'
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Game of Thrones season 5 episode 3, review: Sansa and manhood-lopping torturer Ramsay Bolton - really?
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Aaron and Melissa Klein: Oregon anti-gay bakers ordered to pay $135,000 after refusing to make cake for same-sex wedding
Andrew Lloyd Webber: Phantom of the Opera writer mocked after issuing a warning about Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon
General election 2015: Labour will toughen hate crimes legislation surrounding Islamophobia
HSBC review into moving headquarters from UK 'underway'