James Acaster's spoof crime podcast Springleaf attracts all-star cast

Tuesday 21st November 2023, 8:13am by Jay Richardson

Springleaf. James Acaster

James Acaster has launched his spoof true crime podcast, Springleaf, with an all-star comedy cast.

Stranger Things' Finn Wolfhard, Romesh Ranganathan, Katherine Ryan, Tom Allen, Sara Pascoe, Joe Lycett, Lolly Adefope, Nish Kumar, Rosie Jones, Guz Khan, Phil Wang, Ed Gamble, Josh Widdicombe, Sindhu Vee, Natalie Cassidy and Frank Of Ireland's Domhnall Gleeson are among those appearing in the 10-episode comedy, in which Acaster plays his undercover cop alter-ego, Pat Springleaf.

Springleaf shares wire recordings from the biggest case of his career, infiltrating and bringing to justice the notorious SW6 gang, led by the villainous Lawrence (Gleeson). The series also features cameos from Bill Bailey, Jo Brand, Sarah Millican, Mike Wozniak, Hugh Dennis, Milton Jones, Miles Jupp, Louis Theroux and Spinal Tap's Michael McKean.

Acaster first 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.

James Acaster

In the podcast, which launches today, the action switches between the past and present day.

In 2013, Springleaf, an ex-conman-turned-undercover cop, was in the middle of a career-defining job but problems beset him on all sides; the gang were getting suspicious; his wife wanted a divorce; the police were demanding results; and his ex-girlfriend/ex partner in crime was blackmailing him. Not an ideal situation for someone with a burning need to please absolutely everybody.

Fast forward to 2023 and Springleaf and his producer Adams (Gein's Family Giftshop's Kath Hughes) play clips to studio guests as they unpack the criminal hijinks that launched the career of the man "now reasonably widely-known" as James Acaster.

Vee plays Springfield's ex-wife and now agent, Sita; Cassidy is Janet, leader of the rival SW5 gang; triple Oliver Award-winning stage star Sharon D Clarke (Psychobitches) is Springleaf's police chief Angela; Kemah Bob is his ex-partner-in-crime Donna, while Wolfhard appears as Serpico, an exceptionally talented dog.

Crowdfunded to the tune of £135,583 on Kickstarter, the 10 episodes drop weekly and also feature Chloe Petts, Freya Parker, Jason Forbes, Evelyn Mok, Nathaniel Metcalfe, Pat Cahill, Phil Dunning, Mark Silcox and Jack De'ath.

Produced by Lyndsay Fenner (James Acaster's Findings, Jessica Fostekew: Sturdy Girls Club) for Mighty Bunny (Wosson Cornwall, The Ministry Of Happiness), the series follows an unaired pilot which also featured Hughes and Bob.

Speaking to British Comedy Guide last year, Fenner explained 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."

Meanwhile, Acaster has announced a week-long run of his Hecklers Welcome stand-up show in London's West End.

The quintuple Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee will be performing at the Harold Pinter Theatre from 8th January.

He and Wolfhard also appear in the forthcoming Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, in cinemas from 29th March.

Springleaf is available on podcast platforms including Acast

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