After a successful first run last year that saw Tom Jones make his acting debut and Psychobitches get picked up for a full series, Playhouse Presents returns tonight on Sky Arts, with Hey Diddly Dee, which was written and directed by Hustle and Mad Dogs actor Marc Warren, a first for him.
Playhouse Presents as a season, consists of short one off comedies and dramas bringing together some of this country's best acting talent, and as is the case here, allows a number of those big names a chance to direct their own films, and for that I'm very thankful to Sky.
Hey Diddly Dee centres around a stage production of Andy Warhol's life, in which Peter Serafinowicz plays the lead much to Johnny's annoyance who would do anything to take centre stage. Johnny by the way I think is played brilliantly all the way through this by Mat Horne who brings that charm he seems to have to the character and the relationship between his character and Kylie's is great to watch and actually, leaves you wanting more. Which is obviously a good sign.
So how did the idea all come about? Well, speaking to Marc at the screening of Hey Diddle Dee he said he was in Cape Town filming Mad Dogs when he suddenly thought about Andy Warhol in the shower and his 15 minutes of fame and thought "what if they were 15 individual minutes, I thought that might make a great film. And that was really, then I came back to London and Stuart Murphy mentioned doing one of these and I said about this little idea I had about Warhol and that was the start of it."
Marc has managed to gather together a brilliant cast for Hey Diddly Dee, including Mathew Horne (Gavin & Stacey), David Harewood (Homeland), Peter Serafinowicz (That Serafinowicz Show), Lee Boardman (Coronation Street), Paul Kaye (The Sunday Show), Kylie Minogue (Neighbours) and a cat called Diddly who gets his very own 15 minutes of fame in this. How did he do it? Well, Marc describes the cast as a group of his best mates, except for Kylie, who he didn't know so the casting process must have been pretty easy. That and a great script of course, which I think this is
Kylie plays the role of Bibbi, who actually isn't as big of a role as I had originally thought it would be. But hey, what does that matter when the cast are so great and work so brilliantly together. In fact, speaking at the screening of the show, Marc Warren revealed that the role of Bibbi had originally been for another actress who pulled out just before the read through, he wouldn't say who, everyone tried. So four days before shooting they didn't have an actor to play the role, that was until Mathew Horne came to the rescue and said "get Kylie".
When Mat Horne suggested Kylie, Marc didn't think it was possible and even asked Mat "Kylie who?" when Mat suggested her. Marc couldn't believe that Kylie had agreed to play the role, so much that he actually broke down in tears when he heard the news... in Wagamamas of all places. You really couldn't make it up.
Mat I think is brilliant in this as Johnny, the little understudy who really wants, to quote Warhol, his 15 minutes of fame. Speaking about Marc's directorial debut, Mat said he seemed to "slip into it really naturally" and part of that he feels is because of his time as an actor, so he's able to understand exactly what actors want and respond well to. With a strong Northern accent, David Harewood who man know from Homeland plays director Victor, who has lets just say a tricky cast to work with.
In that 'tricky' cast there's Peter Serafinowicz who i have admired for many years, who plays Roger, the main lead in the musical about Andy Warhol, and for whom the term 'prima Donna' is probably too kind. His ego is far too big for the talent, or lack of, he really has. You only have to hear the bizarre accent he puts on for Warhol to get what I mean. Also in that cast are Lee Boardman who is great as Lenny and Paul Kaye who I will always think of as Dennis Pennis, even though in this he plays a character called Ralph.
So what did I think? I thought it was really really good and have watched it a couple of times now and I think it's a great way to kick off what's bound to be another successful run on Playhouse Presents for Sky Arts HD. I don't want to give away the ending, but let's just say it's worth sticking around for. It's a bit of a shame actually that the show is tucked away on Sky Arts, but in a sense it stops the show being too commercial, but the downside is that perhaps not many people will tune in, either because it's a channel they're not familiar with or because they've not heard of the Playhouse Presents season.
Other names attached to the second season of Playhouse Presents are Matt Smith (Doctor Who), Idris Elba (Luther), Vanessa Redgrave, Ian Hart and many more huge names of the acting world including Reggie Yates! Yes, him from The Voice UK. Also, look out for my interview with Johnny Vegas (Ideal, Benidorm) who has written and directed Ragged which airs 6th June and stars Ricky Tomlinson (The Royle Family).