BBC Two commissions Dave Allen At Peace. A dramatization of the life and career of the legendary comedian
Aidan Gillen to play the provocative godfather of modern stand-up
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two and Shane Allen, Controller of Comedy and Commissioning have commissioned Dave Allen At Peace, a 1×60 biopic celebrating the professional life of renowned Irish comedian Dave Allen.
Produced by Darlow Smithson Productions, the hour-long factual drama will focus on the controversial comedian’s forty-year career, from performing alongside his brother as a Butlin’s Redcoat to becoming one of the UK and Ireland’s comedy greats.
Written by Stephen Russell (We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story, Hattie, and Peaky Blinders), this film will explore how Dave’s comedy genius was shaped by the tragic loss of his father, his brother…and his finger. How he survived decades of the Roman Catholic Church’s wrath, death threats from the IRA and a ban by Irish and Australian TV, only to have his television career end in controversy when he used the f-word in an innocuous joke.
The cast is fronted by Aidan Gillen from BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders and HBO’s Game of Thrones, who will be playing the role of Dave Allen. Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones, HBO) will take on the role of Allen’s brother, John. His father and mother will be played by Tommy Tiernan (Father Ted) and Joanne Crawford (Line of Duty). The film also boasts a line-up of impressive cameos, including Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet), Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Ian McElhinney (Star Wars: Rogue One), Simon Day (The Fast Show) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing).
Patrick Holland said: “Stephen Russell has written a wonderful script that is surprising, innovative and poignant, exploring the people and forces that went into making Dave Allen the comic genius he was. With Aidan Gillen leading a stellar cast, this promises to be a real treat.”
Shane Allen said: “Dave Allen defined and pushed at the boundaries of where television comedy were set and paved the way for modern stand-up to tackle controversial themes and taboos. This film explores what shaped his trail-blazing career and celebrates this hugely popular comedian who ridiculed authority figures with a twinkle in his eye, a glass of whiskey and the most talked about finger in comedy history.”
The film will be structured in affectionate homage to Dave’s original television format. From his famous bar stool, the comic will reflect on his formative years and showbiz career. Flashbacks, some visualised as comedy sketches, will intercut his bar stool repartee bringing significant moments to life.
Emily Dalton, Joint Managing Director, Darlow Smithson Productions, adds: “I always feel it is a privilege to make factual drama. You have to try and make something engaging on a human level; but you also have to look for how that story speaks to something bigger; a universal experience. Dave Allen’s story is about one man blazing a trail in the world doing something he loves but it’s also about success, failure and the importance of finding peace “off to the side” no matter what life throws at you. We feel incredibly lucky to be able to tell it.”
Charlotte Surtees, Executive Producer, Darlow Smithson Production, also adds: “Dave Allen was compulsory viewing at home growing up. His warmth, wit and keen eye for the ridiculous was underpinned by a fierce intellect. As free speech faces uncertain times in an uncertain world, Dave’s extraordinary comedy is a timely reminder to never take ourselves too seriously.
The film will be directed by Andy De Emmony (Quacks, Fantabulosa! and Father Ted) produced by Brett Wilson (We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story, and The Syndicate) and executive produced by Charlotte Surtees and Emily Dalton. The commissioning editor is Gregor Sharp.
Filming will start this month in Northern Ireland.
Both Northern Ireland Screen and RTE are partners on the project.