James Acaster pilots "raucous" game show People Person for Channel 4

ExclusiveMonday 10th June 2024, 8:26am by Jay Richardson

James Acaster
  • James Acaster: People Person is being piloted by Channel 4, following a successful run through of the format in February
  • In the game show, Acaster asks fellow comics to answer probing questions about members of the public. He said: "This is about people. And I'm a people person. Let's do this"
  • The stand-up has also revealed that he will be releasing multiple versions of his Hecklers Welcome show as a special

James Acaster is piloting a "raucous and energetic" Channel 4 game show in which a panel of comedians try to answer probing questions about members of the public, and will be releasing multiple versions of his next stand-up special, British Comedy Guide can exclusively reveal.

Filming this summer, with the working title James Acaster: People Person, the late-night game show features Acaster asking fellow comedians to try to predict which member of a line-up is the answer to each question, with the audience heavily involved as they play for a chance to win a share of the prize fund.

"This is more than just a pilot" said Acaster, who previously presented the Dave panel show Hypothetical with Josh Widdicombe. "It's the co-pilot, flight attendants, passengers and the bloke with the paddles on the runway. This is about people. And I'm a people person. Let's do this."

The hour-long, non-broadcast pilot is based on a game that Acaster introduced on the Dave show Question Team in 2021, in which he asked other comics which of the people that he'd assembled had the biggest garden; who had the most battery life left on their phones; who had the most friends and who was the tallest while they were hidden behind screens, as well as who could return quickest with a chocolate bar.

You can watch a clip of it here:

People Person will be shot in Glasgow soon and follows a run through of the idea at the Oxford House venue in London in February, co-hosted by Sapphire McIntosh and featuring Emmanuel Sonubi, Janine Harouni and Dan Tiernan as the panel.

The show is being made by Interstellar, the production company behind Question Team, which ran for two series on Dave between 2021 and 2022 and was hosted by Richard Ayoade, and Tuesday's Child, which produced Guessable? with Sara Pascoe for Comedy Central.

James Acaster

Meanwhile, Acaster has also revealed that he's recording multiple versions of his Hecklers Welcome stand-up show, in which he accepts the audience interrupting him and doesn't always finish his pre-prepared material, with a vinyl pressing among the formats coming out.

Appearing on comedian Brett Goldstein's Films To Be Buried With podcast, the Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire star and Off Menu podcast host disclosed that he would be filming the show at the end of his tour, which resumes on 16th June at the Hackney Empire in London and currently runs till 18th July at the Vicar Street theatre in Dublin.

"I'm actually filming it in two different locations, two different crowds" he said. "Completely different setups as well because I think that this show, more than any other, is different every night.

"I did an audio recording the other day for an audio release we're doing. I did it two nights in a row in Kettering, my home town, and on neither occasion did we finish the show. So that's going to be released officially! There's going to be a vinyl release of it and everything.

"And we don't finish the material, we don't really get halfway into the material. So the first night was my fault, I was messing around too much. And the second night, they were heckling a lot, to the point where I had to be like 'oh, I've just got to admit that we're not getting to the end of this'."

James Acaster

People Person is co-funded by Screen Scotland. David Smith, director for the funding body said: "Scotland-based production companies have enjoyed considerable success in entertainment, quiz and comedy in the last few years and it's great to work with Channel 4 to further develop this capacity.

"TV production across the UK is undergoing significant change, and the impact on freelance workers has been profound. This initiative is just one of the ways we are focused on increasing the levels of production from Scotland, increasing opportunities for Scotland-based talent and crews."

The pilot was commissioned by Channel 4's head of reality and entertainment, Steven Handley and commissioning editor Cimran Shah.

"We were super impressed by the talent and creativity of entrants during this tender process in collaboration with Screen Scotland" said Shah. "James Acaster: People Person was one of the ideas that stood out as a simple, scalable and clever concept with stellar talent attached and a clear opportunity to develop a new generation of channel defining comedians. We cannot wait to see the final product later this year."

The pilot's executive producers are Colette Magee for Tuesday's Child Scotland and Steph Harris and Jamie Ormerod for Interstellar.

"Working with James to create this format for Channel 4 is hugely exciting" said Ormerod. "Expect inventive games and stunts that defy expectations of a traditional panel game and that celebrate the undeniable fact we're a nation of weirdos. Each, and every one of us."

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