Press clippings

Preview: It's Not What You Know, Radio 4

Lycett says: "We had the most terrific fun recording the new series of It's Not What You Know and I personally can't wait for audiences to hear about Adrian Chiles' worrying eating habits, discover Nish Kumar's homicidal mother, and enjoy me having an argument with Vanessa Feltz."

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 22nd September 2016

To me Gangsta Granny was no different to Mr Stink, as the plot once again concerned a young protagonist who simply didn't fit in with the rest of their family.

Of all of the programmes that have been on during the festive season, Gangsta Granny is the only one that I can envision the entire family settling down to watch together.

Incredibly funny in places, especially when focusing on Ben's parents, at its heart Gangsta Granny was a simple story about the bond between a boy and his grandmother. The abiding message of Gangsta Granny was that youngsters shouldn't see their grandparents as boring because, just like them, they were also young once.

Gangsta Granny also benefited from a number of great performances, most notably from young Reece Buttery as the incredibly expressive Ben and by Julia McKenzie who was terrific as the pensioner with a massive secret. The costumes added an extra element of comedy to proceedings while Matt Lipsey's direction was superb. By the time Gangsta Granny had come to an end I had laughed, cried and finished up with a big smile on my face and that's all I really ask for from a programme such as this.

Matt Donnelly, The Custard TV, 28th December 2013

David Walliams's 2011 children's book, his fourth, has sold more than 430,000 copies, which means there are at least that many imagined versions out there of Ben's adventures with his surprisingly acquisitive grandmother. The team behind last year's Walliams adaptation, Mr Stink, now turn their attention to Gangsta Granny, with Julia McKenzie as the titular lawbreaker.

Schoolboy Ben (Reece Buttery) is bored rigid by the soup 'n' Scrabble regime at Granny's house until she reveals that she was once an international jewel thief. Like many career criminals, she's haunted by the audacious heist she never pulled off, and together Ben and his grandma - aka the Black Cat - decide to complete it.

A child's-view of adult quirks is part of what makes David Walliams's stories special, and he appears here as Ben's dad, with Miranda Hart as Ben's mum. Obsessed with Strictly Come Dancing, they're the ultimate source of mortification for any 11-year-old.

Emma Sturgess, Radio Times, 26th December 2013

David Walliams stars in this likeable adaptation of his best-selling kids' book about Ben (Reece Buttery), a neglected, plumbing-mad boy, and his seemingly boring gran (the brilliant Julia McKenzie) who's not what she seems.

Ben's selfish, ballroom-dancing-crazed parents, played as hideous comic creations by Walliams and a glammed-up Miranda Hart, drop Ben off at his gran's every weekend, where he's subjected to cabbage soup, painful silences and endless rounds of scrabble. At breaking point, he discovers valuables in her biscuit tin and forces her to confess her sideline as an international jewel thief. Their shared secret leads to an ambitious heist, but hot on the tail of gran's mobility scooter is nosy neighbour Mr Parker.

Although it takes a while to warm up, there are moments of real humour, especially in the hospital breakout and ballroom scenes. Expect to see more Robbie Williams on our screens too - he holds his own rather well as the faux-Italian Flavio. It's a slight story with a big heart, and it's surprisingly poignant when the Queen (Joanna Lumley - who else?) makes a plea for the young to respect the old.

Debra Waters, Time Out, 26th December 2013

All-star cast announced for Gangsta Granny

Julia McKenzie, Joanna Lumley, Rob Brydon and Miranda Hart will star in the TV version of David Walliams' best-selling children's novel.

British Comedy Guide, 24th October 2013

Al Murray, Tim Key and lots of rum

Producer Julia McKenzie gives us a behind the scenes look at recording Alex Horne Presents The Horne Section: Edinburgh Special - listen to the programme on Sunday at 19.15.

Julia McKenzie, BBC Blogs, 31st August 2012

Jocelyn Jee Esien returns as the optimistic South African care worker Beauty Olonga, whose work with the elderly and infirm allows her to provide a hilarious commentary on the mores and values of contemporary Britain, while also struggling to keep up with her mother's increasingly extravagant demands for money to be sent home. This week, caring for a flighty middle-class woman (Jenny Agutter) who lives with her redoubtable mother (Julia McKenzie) and feckless daughter, offers Beauty scope to make some priceless remarks on British family life. The observation that cycle lanes are virtually unusable because readily available IVF has clogged them up with double buggies pushed by out-of-work grey-haired men is as pithy a dissection of middleclass aspirations as you're likely to find.

David Crawford, Radio Times, 6th April 2011

Notes from The Now Show: The Hotch Potch

Here's producer Julia McKenzie with this week's notes from The Now Show ideas meeting.

Julia McKenzie, BBC Comedy, 14th December 2010

Notes from The Now Show: Keeping it Topical

After the FIFA results coming through not long before we printed our scripts last Thursday, this week our topical challenge is that the results of the tuition fee vote won't come through until 6.30pm Thursday evening.

Julia McKenzie, BBC Comedy, 7th December 2010

Notes from The Now Show: Frosty Leaks

Here's producer Julia McKenzie with this week's notes from The Now Show ideas meeting.

David Thair, BBC Comedy, 30th November 2010

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