British Comedy Guide

Sky Arts reveals Urban Myths comedy season

Tuesday 10th January 2017, 12:02am

  • Sky Arts is to broadcast eight one-off comedy shows featuring fictional stories about cultural figures
  • Starting later this January, Urban Myths features stars including Katherine Parkinson and David Threlfall
  • Stories include Hitler at art school, Muhammad Ali helping a suicidal stranger, and Cary Grant on LSD
Urban Myths: When Cary Grant Introduced Timothy Leary To LSD. Image shows from L to R: Timothy Leary (Aidan Gillen), Marcie (Margaret Clunie), Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin).

Sky Arts is to broadcast a season of comedies under the title Urban Myths.

The eight one-off shows will "look at remarkable stories from well known historical, artistic and cultural figures, which may or may not have happened in real life..."

The channel will begin broadcasting the 30 minute shows from later this January, and have signed up a host of stars to play the famous faces. Katherine Parkinson, David Threlfall, Paul Ritter, Iwan Rheon and Rupert Grint are amongst the actors involved. Carrie Fisher, who died last month, also appears in one of the episodes.

The channel explains: "Each of the eight original titles in the series has its own unique take on an Urban Myth; some well-known and some that will delight viewers with their obscurity.

"The films include Bob Dylan and Dave Stewart hanging out in Crouch End; an 18 year-old Adolf Hitler attempting to get into art school; Cary Grant and Timothy Leary taking LSD; Salvador Dali summoning Alice Cooper to sit for him; Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando going on a road-trip; Samuel Beckett driving Andre The Giant to school; Muhammad Ali saving a suicidal man; and The Sex Pistols and the story behind the infamous expletive-filled TV interview which announced the arrival of punk rock.

"Using a generous dose of artistic license, the comedies are designed to mischievously spark viewers' imaginations and answer the question; 'if these events really did happen, how might they have played out?'"

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts, says: "We are always looking at new ways of shining a light on the wonderfully bizarre and endlessly fascinating worlds you find across the Arts, and our brand new series of Urban Myths does just that, exploring those tales we've kind of heard of and hope are true. We are delighted that some of Britain's most talented and loved writers, directors and performers have had such a lot of fun with these tales and let their imagination and creative brilliance beam out from every frame."

The individual comedies making up the season are as follows:

Urban Myths: Bob Dylan

Urban Myths: Bob Dylan: Knockin' On Dave's Door. Image shows from L to R: Bob Dylan (Eddie Marsan), Dave (Paul Ritter).

Music legend Bob Dylan decides to play an impromptu visit to his friend and fellow musician Dave Stewart at home. Unfortunately Dave isn't home but his wife Ange reveals he will be back shortly, so 'would he like to wait over a cuppa?'. Sure enough Dave returns, but far from Dave Stewart, this is Dave the plumber - and massive fan of Bob Dylan. Bob sticks around to offer relationship advice.

Bob Dylan is played by Eddie Marsan, Dave by Paul Ritter and Ange by Katherine Parkinson. The episode is written and produced by Neil Webster and directed by Ben Palmer. It will be shown on Sky Arts at 10pm on Thursday 19th January. Guide

Urban Myths: Samuel Beckett And Andre The Giant

Urban Myths: Waiting For Andre.

David Threlfall portrays playwright Samuel Beckett in this comedy.

The premise of the programme suggests to viewers that, long before he went on to become a famous wrestler and film star, Andre The Giant was chauffeured to school by Beckett. Samuel steps in to help Andre, who is his builder's son, as his size means he is already too big to be able to get the school bus. Along the journey a formative lesson in love and life ensues.

The show, also written by Webster and directed by Palmer, will be on Sky Arts on the 26th January. Guide

Urban Myths: Hitler The Artist

Urban Myths: Adolf Hitler The Artist. Image shows from L to R: August Kubizek (Rupert Grint), Adolf Hitler (Iwan Rheon).

A comedy drama observing as an 18 year-old Adolf Hitler pursues his passion for art, as he and his best friend August, a talented musician, live in Vienna hoping to study at the revered Arts Academy. The only problem is that young Adolf is 'crap' at art and is rejected, incurring a wrath that would have far-reaching consequences.

Hitler is played by Misfits actor Iwan Rheon and Gustl by Harry Potter star Rupert Grint. The episode was written by Ben Edwards and has been directed by Dan Zeff. It will be shown on TV on the 2nd February. Guide

Urban Myths: Cary Grant And Timothy Leary

Urban Myths: When Cary Grant Introduced Timothy Leary To LSD. Image shows from L to R: Cary Grant (Ben Chaplin), Timothy Leary (Aidan Gillen).

Focused on the set of Alfred Hitchcock's North by NorthWest, this comedy drama suggests Hollywood heartthrob Cary Grant introduced the psychologist and soon to be drugs advocate Timothy Leary to LSD, resulting in an unforgettable kaleidoscopic trip.

Ben Chaplin plays Cary Grant, with Aiden Gillen as Timothy Leary. Written by Ed Dyson and Roger Drew, Sky Arts is due to broadcast this programme on the 9th February. Guide

Season 2

Sky Arts.

The second batch of programmes is expected to be shown on Sky Arts in April. Most are still in production, so some details are still to follow. However, the information that has been revealed about them is as follows...

Urban Myths: Elizabeth, Michael & Marlon

A comedy drama written by Neil Forsyth that imagines what would have happened if long-time friends Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Marlon Brando had hired a Budget rental car together to escape Manhattan during the September 11th attacks.

Elizabeth Taylor is played by Stockard Channing, Michael Jackson by Joseph Fiennes and Marlon Brando by Brian Cox. This programme also features one of the final performances of Star Wars actor Carrie Fisher. She plays a burger flipper in a diner that the trio visit. Guide

Story update, 13th January: This programme has proved to be highly controversial and Sky Arts has now dropped it. Full story

Urban Myths: Muhammad Ali

In the early 1980s, after his recent and high profile defeat to Larry Holmes, boxing legend Muhammad Ali takes it upon himself to talk a suicidal stranger down from a ledge. Using his unique brand of wit and wisdom, he succeeds in persuading the man that life is worth living, and learns a huge amount about himself in the process.

This offering has been written and produced by Neil Webster, and features Noel Clarke as Muhammad Ali. Guide

Urban Myths: The Sex Pistols

A comedy about The Sex Pistols' infamous 1976 appearance on the early evening Bill Grundy show, when they outraged a nation with their four-letter tirade, heralding the arrival of punk rock. This comedy by Simon Nye takes a wry look at the stories surrounding the appearance, from Johnny Rotten answering viewers' complaints to Freddie Mercury's role in giving the Sex Pistols notoriety.

Set to be filmed by Sacha Baron Cohen's company, this production will draw its cast from the National Youth Theatre, the first product of a new partnership between Sky Arts and the NYT. Guide

Urban Myths: Salvador Dali and Alice Cooper

In this programme, which has yet to be cast, Salvador Dali will summon Alice Cooper to sit for him whilst he creates a hologram. It is described as "a comedic exploration of the moment when these two egos - and Dali's muse Gala - collide." Guide

Here is the trailer for the first four episodes:

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