Harry Hill has made his second film, a silent, slapstick rom-com about a caveman.
Co-starring Holly Burn, Nick Helm and Jason Forbes, The Last Caveman follows Hill as a prehistoric man who believes himself to be the last caveman on Earth, fighting animals and realising he's maybe not quite as alone as he thought ...
Also written, edited and executive produced by Hill for his production company Lucky Features (Whatever Happened To Harry Hill?), the 52-minute film features comedian and former Teletubby Dave Thompson as a bear and Tom Walkinshaw as a shark.
Premiering at the Prince Charles Theatre in London on 20th November, where tickets are already sold out, The Last Caveman is Hill's latest vehicle for his caveman character, following a handful of live outings and an appearance as part of his silent BBC Two shorts, Harry Hill's Lonely Island, in 2021. Stephen Taylor, who produced that series, also produces the film.
"It's quite long for a silent thing" Hill explained of The Last Caveman to Twiggy on her podcast, in an episode released last month but recorded over the summer. "I'm kind of at that stage where I just want to do thing for fun. Or things I enjoy."
Developing the character in 2020 for the live show Harry Hill: Caveman!, he'd conceived the silent spectacle as potentially touring internationally in multiple venues, in the manner of Tape Face's shows.
He hadn't originally intended to star as the caveman but was persuaded otherwise by West End producers he held meetings with.
"They found it surprisingly difficult to get their heads round!" Hill wrote in his 2021 memoir Fight! Thirty Years Not Quite At The Top. "To be fair, a silent comedy doesn't read particularly well on paper, particularly if you're used to reading dialogue and putting on revivals of Blithe Spirit.
"It requires a certain amount of imagination to see where the laughs will fall.
"Originally I'd planned to cast great visual comics in the lead roles but the message I kept getting back was that I'd have to be in it for it to sell any tickets.
"So with no-one reaching for their cheque book, I thought to myself, why don't I just try it out like I would was building up my stand-up act?"
Co-starring Burn and Paul F Taylor as a dinosaur, work-in-progress shows of Caveman! were staged at the Battersea Arts Centre and at the cornerHOUSE in Surbiton before the pandemic struck, leaving the live version in limbo and prompting Hill to reimagine it as a film.
Recalling the show's live debut for Twiggy, he said: "I've got a Max Wall wig, long hair and a caveman fur and fake rubber feet ... got these fake teeth and the audience just looked at me like I was completely mad. And it didn't get much better. By the end, they were looking at me as if 'when's this going to stop?'"
"So I got a few laughs, rewrote it and did it again and that got lots of laughs. That was literally the Friday before the lockdown.
"There was lots of music and sound effects, falling over and being hit with rocks and stuff."
Directed by Steve Bendelack (Spitting Image, The League Of Gentlemen) and co-starring Julie Walters as his nan, Matt Lucas, Simon Bird, Sheridan Smith, Johnny Vegas, Julian Barratt, Marc Wootton, Jim Broadbent and alt-rock band The Magic Numbers as themselves, it was critically panned.