The Rebel. Henry Palmer (Simon Callow). Copyright: Retort
The Rebel

The Rebel

  • TV sitcom
  • Gold
  • 2016 - 2017
  • 9 episodes (2 series)

Sitcom starring Simon Callow as a rebellious pensioner. Also features Bill Paterson, Anita Dobson, Amit Shah, Anna Crilly and Vivian Oparah

Press clippings

The Rebel starring Simon Callow to return for Series 2

The Rebel, the sitcom starring Simon Callow as hellraising pensioner Henry Palmer, is to return to the Gold TV channel for a second series.

British Comedy Guide, 30th July 2017

When an unscrupulous art buyer from Shoreditch gives charity-shop worker Charles a tenner for an apparently worthless old urine bottle (conspicuously signed with a tell-tale "R Mutt", history-of-art lovers), a horrified Henry and co hotfoot it to Hackney to get it back, in the last part of this baby-boomer comedy based on the Oldie cartoon strip. Worth catching for Paul Kaye's triple role, Dr Strangelove-style, as three flavours of absolute berk.

Ali Catterall, The Guardian, 3rd August 2016

The Rebel - Review

A funny, witty and well-acted sitcom with nothing but potential from the get go, Simon Callow's Henry Palmer is either destined for stardom or a very cult status at least.

WMMOW, 2nd August 2016

As the three-part comedy bows out, the irascible Henry (Simon Callow) ends up reinventing himself as an art dealer to help Margaret (Anita Dobson) recover a precious item. Unfortunately this means a visit to London, home of the hipster culture he detests. 'What's the worst thing that could happen to me in Hackney?' he wonders. 'Get entangled in someone's beard?' Henry's attempts to fit into the modern art scene ('I hate shapes and colours') are very funny, and the brilliant Paul Kaye guests as a trendy gallery owner.

TV Times, 28th July 2016

Simon Callow - recently hilariously confused with Simon Cowell on Pointless - does a nice line in angry old git as the irascible Henry in this agreeably sour sitcom. You can see Callow channelling his inner King Lear as he rails against the world. Not to mention the dying of the light.

Metro, 27th July 2016

In The Rebel we rubbed up against the ageing population again. This time in the form of 70-year-old anarchic ex-mod Henry Palmer, played with characteristic booming glee by Simon Callow. A new sitcom adapted by Private Eye cartoonist Andrew Birch from his own cartoon strip series, there were some nice spiky moments and lots of proper swearing and other mildly radical things that no British person can wholly dislike. Such as Palmer beating a police officer with a teddy bear, blowing up an ATM, smashing a shopping trolley into a supermarket, and shouting: "Gay, my arse!" while representing himself in court. Lots of deckchair smashing, Pink Floyd, and no mention of data whatsoever ensued. Some things don't change.

Chitra Ramaswamy, The Guardian, 21st July 2016

Untimely new comedy courting the grey vote with the dubious premise of: "Here, when you're old, you're nobody." Simon Callow plays permanently furious baby-boomer Henry who, when not being menaced by faceless youths on skateboards, rails against any suggestion that he should act his age. The targets are soft (political correctness, fancy coffee shops) and the lead character isn't sympathetic enough to gain real traction. A Victor Meldrew for the post-Brexit era? No, thanks.

Phil Harrison, The Guardian, 20th July 2016

The Rebel review

The key difference with The Rebel and One Foot In The Grave: Meldrew was battered by external forces driving him to distraction, but Palmer is the architect of his own fury. Plus you could never see Meldrew pogoing to The Jam in his living room.

Steve Bennett, Chortle, 20th July 2016

Simon Callow interview

It's a difficult thing to be a 70-year-old rebel. I'm not a million miles away from Henry. The difference is Henry did what he had to do, he did what circumstances and society dictated to him, and now he just thinks, 'I've had enough of this.'"

Michael Hodges, Radio Times, 20th July 2016

These hot summer months are the dog days of TV schedules, with only a few new series starting. One noteworthy exception is Gold's The Rebel, a spikier, angrier One Foot In The Grave starring Simon Callow as an elderly ex-mod who never quite lost his appetite for seafront contretemps.

The language is on the ripe side of realistic, the scripts sometimes betray their cartoon origins - The Rebel started as a strip in The Oldie - and the dialogue given to Bill Paterson as Callow's ex-hippy pal is a bit on the clich├ęd side, but any show that lets old stagers like Callow, Paterson and former EastEnder Anita Dobson have this much fun is a good watch.

Michael Moran, BT, 20th July 2016

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