Moving Wallpaper. Jonathan Pope (Ben Miller). Image credit: Kudos Productions.

Moving Wallpaper

Comedy series following no-nonsense TV producer Jonathan Pope and his neurotic writing team as they set about trying to produce a hit TV show

AKA:
Echo Beach; Renaissance
Genre:
Sitcom
Broadcast:
2008 - 2009  (ITV)
Episodes:
18 (2 series)
Starring:
Ben Miller, Lucy Liemann, James Lance, Dave Lamb, Sarah Hadland, Sinead Keenan, Elizabeth Berrington, Raquel Cassidy, Susie Amy, Alan Dale, Kelly Brook
Writers:
Tony Jordan, Howard Overman, Simon Blackwell, Richard Pinto, Anil Gupta, Will Smith, Roger Drew, James Payne
Production:
Kudos Productions
& Red Planet Pictures

A comedy show about a TV producer and his writing team. In a unique twist, this comedy is paired with genuine, real ITV dramas (first Echo Beach, now Renaissance) so that the results of the fictional characters' work can be seen. For example, in Moving Wallpaper we see the crew struggling to make a young child actress cry - in the subsequent Echo Beach the resulting crying can be viewed.

Jonathan Pope is a brash, egocentric, and ruthless TV producer who will stop at nothing to create a hit TV show. We first meet Jonathan as he is parachuted into TV soap Polnarren by ITV and given the task of turning it into a hit. Within minutes he has ripped up the scripts, re-named the show Echo Beach, hired in younger, sexier actors, signed off expensive stunts and ordered himself an LA-style bathroom for his office.

Having to cope with Jonathan's frequent demands for script changes is the writing team: Tom, Carl, Gillian, script editor Sam and personal assistant Kelly.

Jonathan is not actually that good at his job, but somehow he always seems to get away with it. However, he isn't fooling Nancy Weeks, the Head of Continuing Drama at ITV. She is less than impressed and looking for the first possible excuse to fire Jonathan.

Although Echo Beach has been cancelled, a clause in Jonathan's contract means ITV, much to Nancy's annoyance, must offer Jonathan a new pilot. The result is Renaissance, a zombie thriller. Will Jonathan manage to create a hit show or will he and the team soon be looking for new jobs?

Renaissance will be shown on www.itv.com on the 3rd April.

Our Review: The pairing of Moving Wallpaper with serious soap Echo Beach was a brave idea, but doomed from the start. The comic goings on in Moving Wallpaper, which 'revealed' what was going on behind-the-scenes on the soap (e.g. Jason Donovan throwing a strop) completely undermined the serious and genuine drama Echo Beach was supposed to be. The result was that tension was destroyed, viewers didn't care about the Echo Beach characters or storylines, and the soap was frankly nothing more than a boring mess.

Thankfully for comedy fans the ratings-disaster that was Echo Beach could be ignored, and Moving Wallpaper could be watched and enjoyed independently. And it is a great sitcom. Funny, clever and witty, with engaging storylines, interesting characters and a great cast. Very likeable indeed.

To be level-headed for a moment, we ought to say some of the jokes may be a bit too broad (for example, in series one, a blowjob joke was carefully explained, just in case the audience didn't get it first time). The show may also have too many TV in-jokes for the casual viewer.

However, there really is a lot to like about Moving Wallpaper. Much of that credit must go to Ben Miller who somehow makes the character of Jonathan Pope completely loveable, which is baffling as in theory Jonathan is an arrogant monster you'd expect to hate.

Series two left things open for more... but with low ratings, it still remains to be seen whether ITV will give the show a third series or not.