Peter Mitchell talks about Comedy Lab Rick and Peter
Tim Clark15 September 2011
The latest Comedy Lab, Rick and Peter, goes out on E4 this Friday.
Presenter Rick Edwards and Peter Mitchell (broody paraplegic in Cast Offs, headmaster in Hollyoaks) play fictionalised versions of themselves. Not interested yet? Four words: 'written by Tom Basden'. As in Tom Basden out of Cowards. And the excellent play Joseph K. We're officially excited.
We're not the only ones: Mitchell says he had much the same reaction when the idea was first brought to him. “This has the potential to be a real series,” he says. “Once I got the script through, because Tom Basden is such a fantastic writer, it was great. I was just laughing out loud, knowing it would be a good project to work on.”
The show was written specifically for both Edwards and Mitchell, although strangely the two didn't know each other before the idea was presented to them.
The combination of people playing fictionalised versions of the themselves and characters making un-PC mistakes all sounds quite Ricky Gervais – but Mitchell insists it is more than that. “No, I wouldn't go that far,” he says. “Rick makes a huge gaffe live on T4 and he's called in to Channel 4, and he's told because of the stunt he has to go on a disability awareness course with Peter Mitchell. He has no intention of going on it and I don't either, but I'm just a new character in Hollyoaks [so I have to]. Straight away, Rick and Peter clash, which is where the comedy comes from.”
While Mitchell had played in a comedy drama role in Cast Offs, this was Edwards first time doing comedy. However, Mitchell says he took to it easily enough. “He's been a presenter, he's used to clowning around for the camera, so it was just no problem for him whatsoever.”
The show also features Miles Jupp (Rev) and Joe Wilkinson (Him & Her), while Nicholas Parsons and Giles Coren both put in appearances too.
Elsewhere, Mitchell is currently in Hollyoaks. So much was made of him joining the cast as a disabled actor that no-one paid any attention to the fact that he's clearly Britain's youngest headmaster.
He laughs that someone has noticed. “I suppose it's more about the characters to start with [than about being a headmaster], but I love playing Pete. But yeah, I suppose I am the youngest headmaster ever.”
(THOROUGH INTERNET RESEARCH UPDATE: Britain's youngest headmaster in the real world is 30. Mitchell is in his twenties. Peter's statement stands up as A FACT.)
Mitchell is now splitting his time between comedy and drama, although he says he doesn't have a preference for one over the other. It's something he might be able to get some advice off former Hollyoaks resident Will Mellor in his upcoming appearance in the second series of White Van Man.
“I've said from day one I want different jobs, I don't want to be a one-trick pony,” he says. “I want different characters, huge challenges.
“I would love to do something a bit darker. But I've been very fortunate as it is – I've only been in acting two years, so what's happened so far is unbelievable.”
For now, the big question is whether Rick and Peter will be any good. Mitchell is hopeful; the rest of us can tune in to E4 at 11pm tomorrow (Friday) night to find out. “Hopefully, Rick and Peter will get commissioned,” he says. “We've worked hard on it and there's a fantastic script so hopefully we've done it justice.”
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