Blackburn-born League of Gentlemen star Steve Pemberton has written a spoof version of his crime drama Whitechapel for ITV1’s Text Santa telethon tonight.
Here he answers a few question ahead of the broadcast:
HOW DID YOUR INVOLVEMENT IN TEXT SANTA COME ABOUT?
I was asked by the team to write a spoof version of Whitechapel, and I came up with the title first, which is Snow White Chapel. It’s a mash-up of the fairy tale and the TV show — there’s a body found with a poisoned apple and the detectives go on the trail to find the murderer.
There’s a few surprises along the way, and a few surprising guest cameos from other ITV celebs. It’s good fun, a short sketch that will be shown on the night.
THE TITLE ALONE MAKES US WANT TO SEE IT...
Thank you very much! That unleashed my imagination. As soon as I came up with that it gave me the framework I needed. It’s been really fun to do, but it’s been strange doing the silly version of Whitechapel, knowing that we’re back in the same place soon, doing the serious version of it.
But it’s great; obviously I’ve done a lot of comedy before, but many actors have got great comic bones. Phil (Davis) and Rupert (Penry-Jones) are really funny, but they don’t get a chance to show it.
I think viewers like seeing actors not taking things so seriously.
HAVE YOU STARTED FILMING THE NEW SERIES?
No, we start in January. In fact I’m writing two episodes of that as well as the spoof version - so I have to make sure I don’t get my files mixed up!
IS IT DIFFICULT TO SWITCH BETWEEN DRAMA AND COMEDY?
No, not really. When I did the spoof, I took Airplane! as my model because I love the fact that you can be doing a very serious scene and then something ridiculous happens.
There’s a huge number of celebrity cameos from people who’ve come in and given great value.
But when we come back and do the real series, I think Whitechapel has always been a show that’s had a sense of humour about itself, and we all have a laugh — we’re good mates, so there’ll be no confusion. We’ll be back in serious mode!
DO YOU GET MORE ATTENTION FROM FANS OF WHITECHAPEL OR THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN THESE DAYS?
Oh, all kinds. I’ve been very lucky to have Whitechapel and Benidorm running almost simultaneously, and they’re two very different shows.
Sometimes people can’t quite think what they know me from! But there are certainly the Whitechapel fans, the Benidorm fans and then The League Of Gentlemen is still talked about a lot, it’s never really gone away. And of course now Psychoville, which me and Reece Shearsmith did quite recently.
I’m doing a new show with Reece soon; we’re about to start filming on that, which will be on BBC Two next autumn.
There’s lots happening and the good thing is it’s all very varied, very exciting and keeps me interested.
WHAT CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW PROJECT WITH REECE?
It’s darkly comic. It’s six self-contained stories, so it’s not a big, overarching storyline, like we did with Psychoville. They’re kind of mini-plays, like Tales Of The Unexpected in a way — six different stories with six different casts. So it’s a really exciting project and we’ve got great people to come along and be in those.
But the big thing for now is Text Santa. It’s for a really good cause and everybody’s worked really, really hard on it.
You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who are here, and the fact they’ve put all the original sets up for just one day of filming is incredible really.
So we’re all hoping it pleases people on the night and gets them to ring up.
DO YOU HAVE ANY CHARITIES THAT ARE CLOSE TO YOUR HEART?
I was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire this year. There’s a charity in Lancashire called Derian House, which is a children’s hospice, so it was great to give them a really good chunk of money.
But Text Santa supports charities across the board, so I think that’s a very useful thing to do.
Even though it’s Christmas, hopefully people will ring up and dig deep.
- Text Santa, ITV1 from 8pm. To donate, visit www. itv. com/ text santa