Last week filming started for a new sitcom in which Kasabian’s Tom Meighan will star. He’ll play a mentally-deranged doorman in the ’70s-set comedy, Walk Like A Panther, with TV chef Marco Pierre White set for a cameo. There are rumours that Noel Gallagher may pop up on screen somewhere. It is not, we can safely assume, going to appeal to fans of My Family.
The whole scenario sounds like an idea first chopped up on Serge Pizzorno’s coffee table at 3am. Which is probably pretty much the measure of how it came about – Serge has bankrolled the whole thing. But although in abstraction it looks like we could be in for some cringey ‘Empire strikes whack-whack’ lads let loose slapstick nonsense, the full line-up reveals that things could be a far more promising affair – the script has been written by Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels writer Dan Cadan and This Is England’s Stephen Graham is set to star.
As such, rather than falling into the tag-on comedy walk-ons category a la Razorlight metal detecting in The Mighty Boosh, Tom and Serge are aligning themselves with a rich history of rockers who have successfully weaved themselves into the hemlines of shows with genuine depth and passion for the good of comedic art.
“I’d love to be in Monty Python rather than The Beatles,” John Lennon semi-joked in 1980, but it was his Beatles bandmate George Harrison who had actually put his money where his moustacheoed mouth was, helping the comedy troupe raise £2 million to help finish their 1979 masterpiece Life Of Brian, and making a cameo appearance in Eric Idle’s Beatles send-up flick, The Rutles’ All You Need Is Cash.
Harrison also let Idle work on music videos for his solo material, while later on Paul McCartney helped Only Fools And Horses out by letting them use 1971 single ‘Uncle Albert’. This occurred in the 1991 episode ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Uncle’, where the character Uncle Albert leaves home, and helped lend even more endearing gravitas to the classic series.
More recently David Bowie became the best thing on Ricky Gervais’ second series of Extras by becoming an integral part of the show’s plot, exposing Ricky’s character Andy Millman’s hypocrisy by ridiculing him in song. Meanwhile in less expensive studios Alan McGee, Carl Barat and more have spent days filming grassroots internet comedy Svengali without as much as a nationwide living room giggle on offer as reward beyond the satisfaction of creating an original, truly independent show.
But we should be optimistic for reasons beyond the fact that Tom and Serge are following these examples of a rich and honourable rock tradition. Because as Catherine Tate, lame new show Come Fly With Me and the rest demonstrate, the current standard of British comedy shows is generally at floor level. Just the thought of a camera being pointed towards Meighan is already infinitely more amusing than someone repeating the words “Face, bovvered?” on a loop for all eternity. We shall see!