Alan Carr making ITV sitcom Changing Ends

ExclusiveFriday 11th November 2022, 9:11am by Jay Richardson

There's Something About Movies. Alan Carr. Copyright: CPL Productions

Alan Carr is making an autobiographical sitcom for ITV, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal.

The comedian stars in and co-writes Changing Ends, based on his life growing up in Northampton as a gay teenager in the 1980s - through puberty, adolescence and self-discovery, all set against the backdrop of Thatcher's Britain and his father, Graham, being manager of Northampton Town football club.

Co-written by Two Doors Down creator Simon Carlyle and produced by Steve Coogan's company Baby Cow (Gavin & Stacey, Red Dwarf), ITV has ordered six 30-minute episodes, with production beginning in London in January and the series airing later in 2023.

Recounting Carr's sexual awakenings, his daily battle with bullies and navigating the highs and lows of fourth division football, Changing Ends is "about school and family, Kevin Keegan and George Michael, and figuring out who you are when your family are Match Of The Day and you're a bit Miss Marple".

Directed by Dave Lambert, the executive producers are Carr, Carlyle, Baby Cow's Sarah Monteith and Rupert Majendie, plus Danny Julian of Carr's management company Off The Kerb.

As British Comedy Guide revealed last year, the commission follows a successful non-transmission taster pilot and casting search for a young actor to play Carr as a child.

Appearing in a video, Carr said: "I've been developing a sitcom based on my life, with Baby Cow, about me growing up in the 80s in Northampton. And, guess what? We need to cast a young Alan. So we're looking for a young boy, 10 to 13. Someone who has my energy, my charisma."

Born in Weymouth, Carr spent most of his childhood in Northampton, where his father, a former player and scout became manager of the local football club and remains an associate director. The comedian's grandfather, Wilf, played for Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, while an uncle turned out for PSV Eindhoven.

In the video, Carr added that the sitcom will have a realistic tone and not feature a self-caricature: "This is about a young boy on the cusp of puberty starting his journey in this very masculine world of lower league football".

The script provided for the casting call-out appears to be the sitcom's opening voiceover:

"I swear there was a mix up at the hospital. I do! Somewhere in Northampton, there's a hairdresser looking out his patio windows wondering why his son is more interested in playing keep it uppy, than learning how to give a cut and colour. It's what you could call a genetic own goal, no pun intended, my Dad's the local football manager you see. I mean I'm hardly footballer material, have you seen me? Classic pear with a sweet tooth, most boys go up a collar size over the summer holidays but I go up a cup size an all.

"What can I say? I'm a sucker for a flump, it's one of the few pleasures in my life. Well, that and bobbing down WH Smith to get my hands on a brand new Agatha Christie. Betty in Smiths says 'you like a mystery don't you?' I thought 'How you've maintained this job with such bad body odour is the biggest mystery but I bit my tongue and just said 'Give me a quarter of cola cubes my love, and then I'll get out of your hair.'"

Carr, currently touring the UK with his Regional Trinket stand-up show, admitted his preference for Agatha Christie novels over football in a recent interview with Graham Norton.

Speaking to promote his More4 series Alan Carr's Adventures With Agatha Christie, he told Norton on his Virgin Radio show in August that:

"I'm a huge fan, and always have been. My dad being a football manager, he would take me as a kid to WH Smiths and try to get me to read Match or Score or something like that, but I always just wanted Agatha Christie books!"

Even so, Carr currently narrates CBBC series The Academy, a documentary following the careers of young players in Southampton FC's academy, featuring Mo Salah, current Saints captain James Ward Prowse and full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, as well as former Southampton players Alan Shearer, Theo Walcott and Nathan Redmond.

Alan Carr

What's more, every chapter title in his 2008 autobiography, Look Who It Is! Alan Carr: My Story, is taken from a football phrase, including "Changing Ends".

In the memoir, Carr recalled his father putting him through a strict fitness regime as a child and strangers approaching them in Northampton.

"'Does he play, Graham?' they would ask with a nod in my direction" he recalled. "Or, worse, ruffle my hair and say, 'What position do you want to play?'

"I'd just smile sweetly and watch their face fall when my camp voice trilled, 'I'm not really into football,' then carry on listening to the Supremes on my Walkman."

He added: "Of course I'd love to be earning £75,000 a week, working two days a week and then spending the rest showing OK! magazine my beautiful mock-Tudor mansion.

"But you've got to remember that when I grew up in the Eighties, football was grim, men in cloth caps with no teeth shouting on terraces and throwing bananas at the black players. It wasn't the ghetto-fabulous existence that we all know and love today, with the fast cars and Louis Vuitton hand luggage. If I'd known I could have lived that kind of lifestyle, I would have endured my father's stomach crunches and star jumps."

Meanwhile, Caryle has also spoken about his struggles growing up gay in Ayr.

The Ayrshire town was "just an awful place to be gay" he told the Herald newspaper on Wednesday, ahead of Two Doors Down returning for its sixth series on the BBC.

"I'm not sure if I'd have been beaten up but I certainly wasn't for coming out. So, I had to have fake girlfriends, and it was bloody awful.

"What helped me was knowing a couple of gay guys from figure skating. I learned enough to know I should never take a wife and join a golf club."

Update: Since BCG published this story, ITV have revealed on Lorraine that the part of the young Alan Carr will be played by relative newcomer Oliver Savell. Here is a video in which Carr surprises him with the news:

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