Stephen Russell

  • Writer

Known for: Shameless (Writer)

Press clippings

Stephen Russell's comedy-drama is based on the novel and play by Sue Townsend, and stars David Walliams as a newly elected People's Republican party PM, whose first move is to oust the royals. The clan have to adapt to life in northern cul-de-sac "Hell Close". Funny and provocative, just as Townsend intended.

Mike Bradley, The Guardian, 24th December 2018

TV review: Dave Allen At Peace, BBC2

An open goal missed by a mile. Watch the documentary instead.

Bruce Dessau, Beyond The Joke, 3rd April 2018

Dave Allen At Peace review

Acting talents aside, you won't learn much about such an important figure in British and Irish comedy from watching this indifferent drama.

Steve Bennett, Chortle, 3rd April 2018

Dave Allen at Peace review

Unlike the comedian's monologues, this biopic lacked a punchline or point.

Gabriel Tate, The Telegraph, 2nd April 2018

BBC Two announces Dave Allen biopic with Aiden Gillen

Aidan Gillen will star in a new BBC Two biopic about comedian Dave Allen, "the sit-down stand-up".

British Comedy Guide, 19th September 2017

We're Doomed: The Dad's Army Story dramatises the tale of jobbing actor Jimmy Perry (Paul Ritter) who together with his agent's husband David Croft (Richard Dormer) wrote one of the nation's favourite sitcoms. When I first started watching We're Doomed I thought that writer Stephen Russell's work would be up there with other making of dramas such as The Road to Coronation Street and An Adventure in Space and Time. However I gradually realised that We're Doomed lacked the bite of both of those shows and it was a little bit too light for its own good. One of the main problems with We're Doomed was that Dad's Army wasn't beset with many problems aside from a sceptical BBC Boss and an audience who may not have been ready for a comedy about a recently fought war. But what We're Doomed lacked in edge it made up for in two sympathetic lead characters who were played by a couple of fine performers. Paul Ritter perfectly portrayed Perry as the wannabe star who became an accidental sitcom writer after trying to net himself the role of Walker. Ritter's animated turn was perfectly balanced by Richard Dormer's very dry interpretation of the grounded David Croft. The action started to pick up when the familiar faces of the actors started to appear on screen most notably Arthur Lowe who was convincingly portrayed by John Sessions. Sessions made Lowe the star of the show both on and off camera especially when Croft and Perry worried that he'd struggle to remember any of his lines. The humour of the piece was perfectly offset by a couple of more emotional moments such as when Perry realised he wasn't going to play Walker and when later he watched his hero Bud Flanagan perform the iconic Dad's Army theme tune. Even though it was a little rushed, I felt that We're Doomed told its story well primarily due to its combination of wit and sympathetic characters. Ultimately the drama was the perfect fit for the festive schedules and also provided the perfect taster for the upcoming Dad's Army film.

Matt, The Custard TV, 24th December 2015

Radio Times review

From the animated-arrow captions to the church hall set re-creation, this knockabout biopic envelopes Dad's Army fans in a very warm embrace. It charts the meeting, partnership and battles with the Beeb of two of our finest comedy writers, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, whisking us back to the smoke-wreathed 60s - all brown and beige, big specs and high hems.

Writer Stephen Russell holds your hand through the who's who and what's what, but with a lightness of touch and a deep affection for the imperishable Home Guard sitcom. There are lump-in-the-throat moments, too: Perry overseeing his hero Bud Flanagan record the theme tune is a beauty (Bud died shortly afterwards), and the whole thing ends with the perfect pop song.

Paul Ritter and Richard Dormer are superb as flamboyant Perry and commanding Croft. Just as this drama is a tribute to them, so is Dad's Army's longevity. Frank Williams, 84, the show's original vicar, recently told RT, "People have often asked me whether there was a lot of re-writing? No there wasn't, because there wasn't any need to. They produced the goods."

You have been watching their work for four decades, and will be for many years to come.

Mark Braxton, Radio Times, 16th December 2015

If you missed this superior biographical drama when it was shown earlier this year, here's a good chance to catch up. Ruth Jones is mesmerising as Hattie Jacques, a beloved comic actor who became part of a domestic ménage with adored husband John Le Mesurier and sexy younger man John Schofield. The story is irresistible: Schofield (Being Human's Aidan Turner) meets Hattie after a charity event and the two are quickly in the grip of an electrifying sexual passion. Bizarrely, even incredibly, Schofield moves into the Le Mesurier home and the marital bed, with John banished to the attic. Yet Stephen Russell's script judges no one as it reveals a marriage that, in its own strange way, was rock-solid, with Hattie and John sharing a lifelong devotion, even after their divorce. Ever the gentleman, John takes the blame for the break-up. Hattie is a touching drama that, for once, doesn't perform a hatchet job on an adored British comedy figure.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 7th May 2011

Ruth Jones is mesmerising as Hattie Jacques, the beloved comic actor and Carry On star, who became part of a domestic ménage with her adored husband John Le Mesurier and a sexy younger man, John Schofield. The story is irresistible: Schofield (played by Being Human's Aidan Turner) is a second-hand car dealer who meets Hattie after a charity event while she's filming Carry On Cabbie and the two are quickly in the grip of an electrifying sexual passion. Bizarrely, even incredibly, Schofield moves into the Le Mesurier family home and the marital bed, with John Le Mesurier banished to the lodger's room in the attic. Yet Stephen Russell's script judges no one as it reveals a marriage that, in its own strange way, was rock-solid: Hattie and Le Mesurier shared a lifelong devotion after their divorce. Ever the gentleman, Le Mesurier (Robert Bathurst) takes the blame for the break-up. Hattie is a touching drama that, for once, doesn't perform a hatchet job on an adored British comedy figure.

Alison Graham, Radio Times, 19th January 2011

Ever wondered what Carry On actress Hattie Jacques might've looked like in the throes of sexual ecstasy? Then look no further than BBC 4's latest "tears behind the laughter" biopic, hattie, which takes a mildly scurrilous peek at a peculiar episode from her once private life.

Though hidden from the public during their lifetime, it's now common knowledge that Jacques and her husband, beloved British comedy actor John Le Mesurier, were embroiled in a bizarre love triangle involving cockney chauffeur John Schofield.

The film shows how Jacques was seduced by this ravishing charmer, who then moved into her marital bed while Le Mesurier - in an almost farcical display of gentlemanly English stoicism - was banished to a guest room.

Jacques obviously adored her husband, so what was she thinking? Unfortunately, writer Stephen Russell doesn't provide many answers beyond suggesting that, insecure about her weight, she was flattered by the attentions of a younger man. It all feels rather glib.

Though Schofield (Being Human's Aidan Turner) is depicted as having genuinely fallen in lust with the vivacious actress, Russell also suggests that the material trappings of her celebrity lifestyle proved just as enticing.

As for Le Mesurier, he's portrayed as an exasperating cuckold incapable of functioning without his wife's support. The public humiliation he avoided in life is now exposed for all to see: hardly the point of his sacrifice.

Ruth Jones is fine in the lead role, although she doesn't have much to work with. Maybe Jacques really wasn't that complex in real life, but there must have been more to her than these superficial character traits. She's depicted as warm and charitable, with a girlish sense of fun, but an immature recklessness when it came to her own family. And that's it.

Robert Bathurst steals the acting honours as Le Mesurier, suggesting acute sensitivity beneath those famously vague mannerisms. But his character never really comes alive either.

Although not bad as such, Hattie suffers from rather bland execution. It recounts a strange, voyeuristically interesting story, but rarely engages on an emotional level.

Paul Whitelaw, The Scotsman, 15th January 2011

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