wed 06/12/2023

With Friends like these | reviews, news & interviews

With Friends like these...

With Friends like these...

Matt LeBlanc is to star in a sitcom about a sitcom star called Matt LeBlanc

The accepted wisdom that Americans screw up every British comedy they buy the rights to is to be given a post-modern twist. Shooting was announced this week for a new sitcom called Episodes. It features a pair of British comedy writers – they also happen to be a married couple - whose idea for a new sitcom is purchased by a US broadcaster. The twist?

That they must replace their lead actor, a distinguished RSC veteran played by Richard Griffiths, with the notably one-dimensional Matt LeBlanc.

The joke underpinning the idea is that American money despises British talent. Perhaps it would have been slightly more current before The Office got remade by NBC and did just as well there as here, thus easing Ricky Gervais’s path to a transatlantic career.

There is no doubting the pedigree of all involved. Episodes is a co-production between the BBC and Showtime, and made by Hattrick Productions, whose credits are as long as your arm but currently include Outnumbered. The writers are Jeffrey Klarik, writer-producer in the 1990s of the US sitcom Mad About You, and David Crane, whose name will be familiar to anyone who ever watched an episode of Friends. The couple are played by Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan, whose comic chemistry was thoroughly proofed in Green Wing.

And then there’s Matt LeBlanc, who seems game for a little self-spoofing in a comedy about comedy which promises radioactive levels of knowing irony. You can check the clip they’ve already released on YouTube, in which LeBlanc auditions to play himself.

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