EXCLUSIVE: In advance of the BBC Worldwide Showcase event in Liverpool next week, Fudge Park’s Iain Morris and Damon Beesley are teaming with hot Brit writer Sam Bain for three-part BBC Comedy laffer Ill Behaviour.
Exec produced by Fudge Park, the banner set up in 2015 by The Inbetweeners creators Morris and Beesley, Ill Behaviour stars Chris Geere (Waterloo Road), Tom Riley (Da Vinci’s Demons), Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls), Jessica Regan (Call the Midwife), Christina Chong (24: Live Another Day) and John Gordon Sinclair (World War Z).
The story, which is directed by Steve Bendelack (Friday Night Dinner) and produced by Gill Isles (Peter Kay’s Car Share), looks at how far one would go to help a friend. When Charlie (Riley) is diagnosed with cancer, the prognosis is favorable – he’s young and healthy and the cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, has been caught early and is a type of cancer that responds well to chemotherapy. Suspicious of drugs and modern medical treatments, Charlie refuses the chemo in favor of a more natural, alternative form of healing.
His oldest friends Joel (Geere) and Tess (Regan) fear he’s written his own suicide note so they decide to hold him hostage and administer the chemo themselves with the help of Nadia (Caplan), an unstable, alcoholic oncologist.
“It’s not really a comedy about cancer at all,” Beesley and Morris tell Deadline. “It’s more about ethical dilemmas and what lengths friends would go to to stop a friend making a bad choice.”
Beesley, Morris and Simon Wilson exec produce for Fudge Park along with Bain. It’s produced in conjunction with BBC Worldwide and, as part of the Beeb’s push to make its streaming service a go-to destination, the project will launch as a box set on BBC iPlayer before being broadcast on BBC Two later this year. It was commissioned by Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy Commissioning and Victoria Jaye, Head of Content BBC iPlayer.
Bain, who has penned hit Brit TV comedies such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat, and also co-wrote 2010 feature film comedy Four Lions starring Riz Ahmed, described the project as “a wish-fulfillment fantasy for anyone who’s ever had to stand back, powerless, as a loved one crashes and burns.”
This comedic union is the latest boon for Fudge Park, which has been quietly building its television and film slate. When it launched, the company entered a distribution and development deal with BBC Worldwide, which oversees the global sales of finished programs and formats. Ill Behaviour is one of the two main comedies that will feature at the Showcase event this weekend, the other being Fudge Park’s White Gold, a 6×30 comedy for BBC Two written and directed by Beesley. That project, which stars Gossip Girl’s Ed Westwick and Joe Thomas and James Buckley (one half of The Inbetweeners clan), is set in 1983 and is the story of a double-glazing showroom and a charismatic, ambitious, working-class salesman (Westwick) who has found his calling in life by ripping off his friends.
Beesley, who noted that much UK drama and comedy set in the early 1980s focused on Thatcherism destroying the country, said he was inspired by a “bubble in the Southeast,” which saw a boom in home improvements and DIY thanks to the Right to Buy your council house scheme issued early in the decade.
“White Gold is sort of a microcosm of successful Thatcherism but the price of that was pulling apart the fabric of the society that it existed in,” he says.
As well as developing its TV slate, Fudge Park has inked a four-pic film deal with Entertainment Film Distributors and Film4, on a non-exclusive basis. Morris and Beesley teamed with Entertainment and Film4 for a film version of their Channel 4/E4 phenomenon The Inbetweeners. The two-film franchise took more than $126M at the British box office, with the first installment becoming the UK’s most successful indie comedy ever.
“It really feels like the right thing to be doing,” says Morris, of launching the boutique company after selling their previous shingle Bwark to Zodiak Media Group in 2011. “We are exec producing the shows we like and we’ve really enjoyed it and it’s great working with funny people again.”