Maxine Peake and Russell Tovey to star in Comic Strip’s phone-hacking comedy

Peter Richardson’s Comic Strip series will turn its attention to Rupert Murdoch and the phone-hacking scandal in a new one-off comedy, The Red Top!, starring Maxine Peake, Russell Tovey and Stephen Mangan.

Peake will play flame-haired Rebekah, an “innocent and beguiling northern girl who accidentally becomes chief executive of News International and gets caught up in a 70s Watergate-style scandal” in the one-off comedy on UKTV’s Gold.

Tovey will play Andy Coulson and Mangan will reprise his role as Tony Blair from the last Comic Strip outing, The Hunt for Tony Blair. Murdoch will be played by former Young Ones star, Nigel Planer.

The new special, which will be set in the 1970s, will also star Johnny Vegas, Alexi Sayle, Harry Enfield, James Buckley and John Sessions, with Eleanor Matsuura as Rupert Murdoch’s ex-wife Wendi Deng.

The Comic Strip series began life on the very first night of Channel 4 in 1982 with a satire based on Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, Five Go Mad in Dorset.

Peter Richardson said: “Like our previous Comic Strip satire – The Hunt For Tony Blair – which was set in the 60s, The Red Top! lampoons the phone-hacking scandal and the world of politics and press proprietors, and is set in a colourful 70s Boogie Nights-style parallel universe with a disco soundtrack.

“I’m thrilled to have such a fantastic cast. It should be huge fun.”

Simon Lupton, commissioning editor for UKTV, added, “There’s nothing quite like The Comic Strip anywhere else in the world of comedy and so it’s incredibly exciting to be part of this next chapter.

“The script is wonderfully hilarious and playful, and as always the cast list is an embarrassment of riches. The Comic Strip history is littered with iconic moments, characters and performances, and I’m confident Peter and his team will be creating some more with this latest instalment.”

The Comic Strip Presents … The Red Top!, which is a working title, will be the second outing of the Comic Strip on Gold, following the 30th anniversary special The Comic Strip Presents… Five Go To Rehab in 2012, three decades on from Five Go Mad In Dorset.

The Red Top! was written by Peter Richardson alongside Pete Richens and Brigit Grant. It will be made by Great Western Features.


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