Brian Pern. Brian Pern (Simon Day). Copyright: BBC
Brian Pern

Brian Pern

  • TV sitcom
  • BBC Four / BBC Two
  • 2014 - 2017
  • 10 episodes (3 series)

Spoof music documentary series fronted by Simon Day in character as art rocker Brian Pern. Also features Paul Whitehouse, Nigel Havers, Michael Kitchen, David Cummings, Philip Pope and more.

Episode menu

Brian Pern: 45 Years Of Prog And Roll, Episode 3

Brian Pern. Image shows from L to R: Barry Patmore (Denis Lawson), Tony Pebblé (Nigel Havers), Pat Quid (Paul Whitehouse), Mike Phillips (Philip Pope). Copyright: BBC
The original Thotch line-up are forced to reform after they are sued by their former manager Basil Steel for non-payment of royalties.

Preview clips

Further details

The original Thotch line-up are forced to reform so they can pay a royalties bill.

Although Brian refuses at first, when he is informed that guitarist Pat Quid has dementia, he decides to throw in the towel to help out an old friend - but there are problems ahead when former band member and recluse Bennet St John reappears wanting a piece of the action.

Brian also runs into trouble with Martin Freeman, who has been assigned to read the audiobook of Brian's autobiography.

Broadcast details

Thursday 28th January 2016
BBC Four
40 minutes


Show past repeats

Date Time Channel
Friday 29th January 2016 2:20am BBC4

Cast & crew

Simon Day Brian Pern
Paul Whitehouse Pat Quid
Nigel Havers Tony Pebblé
Michael Kitchen John Farrow
Philip Pope Mike Phillips
Rhys Thomas Self
Guest cast
Lucy Montgomery Pepita Sanchez
Tony Way Ned Pankhurst (Driver)
Denis Lawson Barry Patmore
Stephen Holbrook Band Member
Craig Christiaens Band Member
Alan Ford 'Big' Basil Steel
Simon Callow Bennet St John
Christopher James Security Guard
Angela Thorne Susan Pern
Peter Bowles Brian's Father
Lucy Montgomery Xanadu Bramble
Roger Taylor Self
Peter Gabriel Self
Martin Freeman Self
Paul Gambaccini Self
Noddy Holder Self
Dean Thomas Ensemble Actor
Writing team
Simon Day Writer
Rhys Thomas Writer
Production team
Rhys Thomas Director
Rhys Thomas Producer
Richard Webb Executive Producer
Christopher Bird Editor
Neil Barnes Production Designer
Steven Burge (as Stephen Burge) Composer
Stephen Holbrook Composer


Martin Freeman voices Brian Pern's audio book

Brian Pern is bringing out a new autobiography and hires old acquaintance Martin Freeman to record the audio book version.

Reforming Thotch

John Farrow, Brian Pern's manager, meets with Brian to discuss the possibility of reforming Thotch for an anniversary concert.

Featuring: Simon Day (Brian Pern) & Michael Kitchen (John Farrow).


The third series Brian Pern from Fast Show alumni, Rhys Thomas and Simon Day's, fly on the wall comedy about that stalwart of British cultural life, the ageing rocker.

This particular triptych focuses on Pern's (Day) 45 year anniversary as a musician but really it just continues where the last 2 series left off, Thomas as the brazenly manipulative doc' maker following the childlike but self-centred rock star as he meanders through his life and career, making bad decision after bad decision.

Brian Pern is a member of that species of comedies, where much like Steve Coogan's Saxondale, there is not much laughter at the characters japes and misadventures, there is however a shit tonne of smiling. It's nice, easy to watch and well made, but not brilliant.

The best moments come from the supporting cast, particularly Lucy Montgomery as Pern's eccentric South American girlfriend, Pepita. The absolute stand out is Michael Kitchen who bristles with boredom as the Prog stars long-time manager, John Farrow and is a genuinely brilliant comic creation.

Indeed, I think if you took Kitchen away from the show, it would fall very, very flat, which is really the fault of the scripts. They plod along nicely but a lot of it seems like filler between gags on a sketch show and much of the comedy comes from the star qualities of its guest appearances (big shout out to Peter motherfucking Bowles!) and the choices they make more than the actual comic writing.

Rhys Thomas, who wrote and directed the series has been in the comedy game for 20 years now, and is in the unique position of being part of The Fast Show gang while also being a relatively young writer with much time to develop. The fact that he is survived for so long in the cut throat world of comedy, demonstrates to this reviewer that he probably will and I expect him to be around for a very long time, like some sort of Barry Cryer 2.0, a remnant of the good old days, who comes to prominence once his more talented peers have passed away. Sorry Rhys, that's harsh.

Alastair Newport, On The Box, 29th January 2016

Final part of Simon Day and Rhys Thomas's excellent rock spoof. There have been allusions to Bono, Fleetwood Mac, Queen and even Happy Mondays in the hapless figure of Pern in this series; tonight's has a touch of the Pink Floyds as he is railroaded into a Thotch reunion. However, reclusive founder member Bennett St John (Simon Callow) also wants in. Martin Freeman and Peter Bowles maintain the high-quality celebrity guest quota, almost a running joke in itself.

David Stubbs, The Guardian, 28th January 2016

Radio Times review

The latest (very good) series of the Simon Day/Rhys Thomas spoof rockumentary series comes to an end with a reunion gig for Thotch, organised with typical skill (and dishonesty) by Michael Kitchen's slippery manager John Farrow. The only way he can get Day's Pern and the rest of the guys back together is by pretending that Paul Whitehouse's Pat Quid has dementia.

On the way we meet reclusive former bandmate Bennett St John (a brilliant Simon Callow), sample Quid's fishing show and get an insight into Pern's deepest yearning: his desire for Dad's approval. Will Pern Sr (Peter Bowles) attend the gig? And will Peter Gabriel show up again like he did last in the last finale?

Ben Dowell, Radio Times, 19th January 2016

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