James Acaster launches spoof true crime podcast & writes first film

ExclusiveWednesday 21st September 2022, 9:15am by Jay Richardson

James Acaster
  • James Acaster is making Springleaf, a spoof true crime podcast based upon his alter-ego, undercover cop Pat Springleaf
  • The stand-up is crowdfunding the series, which will feature a big cast of comedians, including Kemah Bob and Kath Hughes
  • He has also written his first film screenplay, based upon To Do, his 2016 short story about a murder told in to do lists

James Acaster is recording a spoof true crime podcast in the guise of his undercover cop alter-ego Pat Springleaf, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal, and has written his first film screenplay, about a murder.

The comic introduced Springleaf in his 2014 Edinburgh Comedy Award-nominated stand-up show Recognise, subsequently recorded and released by Netflix in 2018 as part of his Repertoire quadrilogy, in which he maintained that he was actually a detective who only masqueraded as a comedian to infiltrate a drug gang.

Reflecting on his law enforcement career, the Springleaf podcast, which Acaster is launching with a crowdfunding campaign shortly, will expand on the character's backstory, revealing that the maverick cop wears a wire recording device under his clothes 24/7, affording listeners an insight into his home life as well.

Springleaf will have "a big cast, with all of the comedians you'd expect to feature with James", producer Lyndsay Fenner told BCG. Those include stand-up Kemah Bob and Gein's Family Giftshop's Kath Hughes, who appeared in an as-yet-unaired pilot. The number and length of the episodes have also yet to be confirmed.

Fenner, who produced the 2014 Radio 4 stand-up series James Acaster's Findings and is making Springleaf for Mighty Bunny, the production company she set up in 2020 with fellow producer Victoria Lloyd, explains that Springleaf takes Recognise as "the starting point for a new narrative.

"Getting your head around what's James and what's Pat, what's real and what's not, well, it takes me a while sometimes. Pat's a complex guy. But it's going to be really, really fun because James is great."

Acaster, who already hosts the Off Menu podcast with Ed Gamble and his Perfect Sounds music podcast on BBC Sounds, hopes to crowdfund Springleaf after his positive experience making the 2016 comic travelogue Sweet Home Lahnsteineringa.

Produced by Turtle Canyon Comedy and shot in the eponymous German town twinned with his home town of Kettering, the film's fan financing "allowed him to do exactly what they wanted to do" Fenner explains. "It gave them a real sense of freedom about the project. And that's what we're hoping to achieve with this too."

Having published his third book, James Acaster's Guide To Quitting Social Media, a tongue-in-cheek account of how he left Twitter, Facebook et al. last month, the comic has also revealed that he's adapted his short story To Do into a film screenplay.

James Acaster

Published in 2016 as part of the Dead Funny: Encore: More Horror Stories By Comedians collection, edited by Robin Ince and featuring tales by Stewart Lee, Alice Lowe, Jason Manford, Josie Long, Isy Suttie, Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Andrew O'Neill among others, the story chronicles a murder through the "to do" lists of the victim and the killer.

"One of the things that I've done while in lockdown is I've turned that into a screenplay" Acaster told comedians Glyn Doggett and David Ephgrave on their More Than Mostly Comedy podcast. "Hopefully, it's something that me and my friends are going to make into an independent film. It's the same story but as a feature film. But who knows when we'll get round to doing that?"

Acaster, who made his film acting debut in the musical Cinderella last year and plays Felix the Ironmonger in the upcoming dark ages comedy Seize Them!, appearing alongside Aimee Lou Wood, Nick Frost, Jessica Hynes, Lolly Adefope, Paul Kaye and Nicola Coughlan, is also set to feature in Sky Max's upcoming six-part series Hold The Front Page, in which Nish Kumar and Josh Widdicombe cover stories for local newspapers.

Last month he received the honour of having a six-month old Anglo-Nubian goat named after him at Wicksteed Park in Kettering, having previously worked at the park and recreated it in meringue during his disastrous 2019 appearance on The Great British Bake Off.

The story featured in the Northamptonshire Telegraph under the byline "Nish Kumar".

The paper quoted Acaster as saying: "Growing up in Kettering all the way through to working at Wicksteed Park and later becoming a comedian, I always knew one thing. I wanted someone to name a goat after me. Thank you for this gift."

The Springleaf crowdfunder will launch soon via springleafpodcast.com

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