Greg James is best-known for being a radio presenter on BBC Radio 1, however this year Greg has stepped foot into the world of telly.
So far he has presented I Survived A Zombie Apocalypse and appeared as himself in the brilliant Murder In Successville, both for BBC Three.
Now Greg is back on our screens, this time in Dead Air, a 17-minute comedy pilot which he co-wrote for BBC iPlayer as part of this year's Comedy Feeds. Yesterday afternoon, hours before Greg presented his first chart show on Radio 1, I went to a special screening in Soho to watch the pilot, which I must admit left me wanting more.
In Dead Air, Greg James plays Jake Cross, a well respected commercial late-night radio DJ. When the current breakfast show presenter for Completely Radio dies suddenly at the start of the episode, Jake is unexpectedly given the opportunity to present the breakfast show himself.
Jake then faces a bit of a dilemma. What should he do? Should he sell out now he has a shot at the big time, or should he try and maintain his integrity and small but loyal fanbase?
When Dead Air was announced back in May, Greg said:
"I have always wanted to write a comedy for the BBC. The fact that this silly idea I jotted down 2 years ago is now a reality is ridiculously exciting. It’s been the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done and I can’t wait for people to see it. My 14 year-old self wouldn’t believe it."
Jake comes complete with his very own entourage, comprising of an idiot best friend/newsreader, a highly-strung producer and a career threatening agent. When it comes to control over his own life, it appears as though Jack has all his decisions made for him.
His agent Perry is played by Tom Davis, who he starred alongside in Murder In Successville, and his way with words are to be applauded, from “fuckbucket" to “hang a trout” his one-liners are a definite show stealer. Despite Jake thinking his opinions count for something and are listened to, it’s in one ear and out the other for Perry, who will just go ahead with what he thinks best regardless.
Then there’s Jakes’s rather emotional producer, and big One Direction fan Sophie, played by Olivia Poulet (The Thick Of It), and Hardip, Jake’s best friend/newsreader.
Hardip is played by Richard David-Caine (Skins) and is the typical ‘idiot’ character you find in comedies. But it’s fine, Richard doesn’t overplay it to the point where it get annoying, instead his performance is very believable and sometimes you do end up feeling sorry for him. Although whether or not he really is “face blind” remains up for discussion!
And finally, there's Big Shane, played by Jared Christmas. Big Shane is an irritatingly successful radio DJ on rival station WTFun, yes... What The Fun?!. Big Shane also parades around as an Australian, when in actual life he’s from New Zealand.
The BBC first introduced Comedy Feeds in 2012, as a chance to test out comedy pilots on an online audience, before being given a full BBC Three series. Previous successes have included Impractical Jokers and People Just Do Nothing which have both been turned into successful full series.
From last year’s Comedy Feeds, pilots Flat TV, Fried and Josh have each been given a full series and will air later this year on BBC Three. Will Dead Air be next? I hope so, but of course only time will tell.
Whilst the traditional route for life after a successful BBC iPlayer pilot used to be a BBC Three series, with the future of the channel looking like it’ll end up online early next year, it’s not yet known where Dead Air would end up if picked up. Chances are it’ll become an original BBC iPlayer series, not quite the kudos a traditional BBC Three series used to offer.
Whatever happens to Dead Air, and wherever it may end up, I do hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Jake Cross as having seen the rest of this year’s Comedy Feeds pilots I really do believe it’s one of this year’s strongest pilots and has great potential for a series.