Timothy Spall to star in new crime comedy-drama | Playing a retired actor turned amateur detective in Death Valley © Seb JJ Peters

Timothy Spall to star in new crime comedy-drama

Playing a retired actor turned amateur detective in Death Valley

Timothy Spall is to star in a new BBC crime comedy-drama, set in Wales.

In Death Valley, the Mr Turner star plays John Chapel, a retired actor who starred in the fictional detective TV show Caesar and now eccentric national treasure.

When his neighbour is murdered, he joins forces with detective sergeant Janie Mallowan – played by Defending the Guilty actor Gwyneth Keyworth, below.

Gwneth Keyworth

Over the six-part series they get to the bottom of several murders, with stunning Welsh locations providing a backdrop to their investigations.

Spall said: ‘I’m really looking forward to teaming up with the brilliant Gwyneth Keyworth and the fantastically talented team of creatives and technicians on this new and unique comedy-drama.

‘I’m relishing the prospect of getting stuck in as we embark on creating this truly oddball detective duo who develop their unusual combined eccentric skills to hilarious and surprisingly successful effect in beautiful rural Wales and its gorgeous towns and villages.’

The show has been created by Paul Doolan, who co-wrote Sky comedy Trollied and Mike Bubbins’s series Trollied – and filming begins next month. 

It is being made by BBC Studios, whose head of comedy Josh Cole said: ‘With a wonderful cast and Paul’s extraordinary scripts, Death Valley is a brilliantly witty and idiosyncratic take on the murder-mystery.’

And Jon Petrie, who ordered the show for BBC Two in his role as head of comedy at the BBC says: ‘This series has all the hallmarks of a BBC comedy classic; it’s the perfect comedy drama caper which never forgets the funny. We feel thoroughly spoiled to have such a wonderful cast on board.’

Death Valley  – which is still a working title –  will also be shown on BBC One Wales. 

Nick Andrews, head of commissioning for BBC Wales said: ‘Comedy in Wales is in terrific shape! The very best comedians, the very best writers are playing their part in establishing Wales as a very funny place. We always knew this to be true and now the rest of the UK do too. 

‘I know audiences will fall in love with these two brilliant characters as they strike up an unlikely but incredibly endearing friendship.’

The BBC call the central pairing ‘an odd, yet hilarious duo with opposing instincts’. adding: ‘When John and Janie are not arguing about a case, they’re inevitably up in each other’s personal business. Despite their differences, they soon realise they are the closest thing each other has to a best friend, and unwittingly help one another move on from the past.

Death Valley production credits

Made by: BBC Studios Comedy
Written and created by: Paul Doolan
Ordered by: Jon Petrie, BBC director of comedy and Nick Andrews, head of commissioning BBC Wales
Commissioning editors: Seb Barwell and Paul Forde
Directed by: Simon Hynd
Produced by: Nikki Wilson
Executive producers:  Paul Doolan, Josh Cole and Madeline Addy.

Additional funding has been provided by Creative Wales, the Welsh Government agency that supports the growth of the creative sectors.

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Published: 20 May 2024

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