Tim Key

Tim Key

Date of birth: 02-09-1976
Tim Key won the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award for his show, The Slutcracker, a mix of poetry, unconventional stand-up and film. And in 2012, Masterslut won best show atthe Chortle Awards.

A former member of the Cambridge Footlights, he first came to the Fringe with their 2001 Edinburgh show Far Too Happy, which also starred Mark Watson and was nominated for the Perrier award for best newcomer.

He also featured in Alex Horne's best-newcomer nominated Making Fish Laugh in 2003, and is part of the four-man sketch troupe Cowards. His solo Edinburgh debut came in 2004, with the tragic one-man comedy play Luke & Stella, which was made into a Radio 4 series called All Bar Luke.

His poetry has also feature on Radio 4’s Mark Watson Makes the World Substantially Better and Charlie Brooker's Newswipe.

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The Witchfinder

TV review by Steve Bennett

Expectations are high when you have a cast of comedy nobility, led by Tim Key and Daisy May Cooper, and a script from the writers of Alan Partridge. Yet The Witchfinder can’t quite deliver on that promise, if not for a want of ambition.

Moving away from ‘Sidekick Simon’, Key takes a well-earned position centre stage as the title character, Gideon Bannister. Essentially he’s a 17th Century Partridge in a big hat: an awkward, pompous, venal man who takes on an ill-fitting mantle of authority, believing he demands respect when no one takes him seriously. Classic sitcom fodder, in other words.

Bannister is prone to weighty-sounding utterances, which he stands by when inevitably challenged by villagers, the local magistrate or his nemesis in the form of rival witch-finder Hebble, assuredly played by Daniel Rigby. He even has his own put-upon Lynn to bully, here in the form of Jessica Hynes’s Old Myers.

But the key dynamic is between him and Cooper’s suspected witch, the excellently named Thomasine Gooch. She very much plays to type as a plain-speaking woman unimpressed by the world, the polar opposite of the self-important, dissembling Bannister. For a mainstream TV comedy, the slow, dry humour that Key so adeptly personifies needs that counterbalance, although we don’t get nearly enough of it in the over-plotted first episode.

Rather than summarily finding Gooch guilty of sorcery, Bannister spots an opportunity to make his name by dragging her cross-country in the hope of grabbing the attention of Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins. So begins a typical mismatched partner road-trip that doesn’t really kick off until the second episode, a stronger offering as it makes more of the conflict and claustrophobic relationship between the two leads. And their enjoyable performances are bolstered by a panoply of cameos  across the series – Julian Barratt, Katy Wix, Reece Shearsmith and Allan Mustafa to name but four.

But the show depends too heavily on the innate comic instincts of its formidable cast than on a strong script. While there is an awkward wit to the writing of Neil and Rob Gibbons, the laughs tend to be stifled by the constant wry understatement. The Witchfinder hasn’t quite found the magic it seeks.

• The Witchfinder starts on BBC Two at 10pm tonight.

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Published: 8 Mar 2022


Tim Key and John Kearns are such a natural pairing,…


Steve Coogan's collaborations with writer-director…

The Horne Section

While Britain’s more established comedy clubs stick…

Far Too Happy

The Footlights gang have been nothing if not ambitious…


Just before coming to the Fringe, the Cowards were…


Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2001

Far Too Happy

Edinburgh Fringe 2006


Edinburgh Fringe 2009


Tim Key: The Slutcracker

Edinburgh Fringe 2010

Tim Key: The Slutcracker [2010]

Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Tim Key: Masterslut

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Tim Key: Single White Slut

Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Tim Key: Work-in-Slutgress

Edinburgh Fringe 2017

Tim Key: Work in Progress

Edinburgh Fringe 2018

Tim Key: Megadate

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Tim Key

Edinburgh Fringe 2022

Tim Key: Mulberry

Tim Key: Mulberry




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