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Stars of British comedy are set to satirize Rebekah Brooks and the British phone hacking scandal in The Comic Strip Presents… The Red Top!, newly commissioned by UKTV.


It’s been roughly a week since Rebekah Brooks was reinstated as Chief Executive of Rupert Murdoch’s New International publishing empire, following a four-year absence due to the British phone hacking scandal that began about a decade ago.

So how timely is the announcement that UKTV has commissioned The Comic Strip Presents… The Red Top! (working title) for its comedy channel, Gold.

As with earlier outings of The Comic Strip Presents…, no one is safe from the irreverent wit of the “anarchic comedy collective,” not even Murdoch and Brooks.

Maxine Peake (Silk, Shameless) leads the cast as 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.

The outlandish 75-minute “comic fantasy” film costars Nigel Planer (Cockroaches) as Rupert Murdoch, Russell Tovey (Being Human) as former News of the World Managing Editor Andy Coulson, and Eleanor Matsuura (Spooks: The Greater Good) as Murdoch’s now ex-wife Wendi Deng.

Stephen Mangan (Episodes) once again plays former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a role he originated in The Comic Strip Presents… The Hunt for Tony Blair.

And rounding out the cast are Johnny Vegas (Moone Boy), Alexei Sayle (Agatha Christie’s Marple), Harry Enfield (Bad Education), James Buckley (The Inbetweeners), John Sessions (Mr. Holmes), and show creator Peter Richardson (Absolutely Fabulous).

Said Richardson, “Like our previous Comic Strip satire, ‘The Hunt For Tony Blair’, which was set in the Sixties, ‘The Red Top’ lampoons the phone hacking scandal and the world of politics and press proprietors, and is set in a colourful Seventies ‘Boogie Nights’-style parallel universe with a disco soundtrack. I’m thrilled to have such a fantastic cast. It should be huge fun.”

The Comic Strip PresentsProduced by Great Western Features for Gold, The Comic Strip Presents… The Red Top! is 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 after the group’s debut The Comic Strip Present… Five Go Mad In Dorset in 1982.

The Comic Strip Presents… The Red Top! was commissioned by Simon Lupton for UKTV. The Executive Producers are Peter Richardson and Nick Smith for Great Western Features, and Simon Lupton for UKTV. The new film was written by Peter Richardson with Pete Richens and Brigit Grant.

This new commission follows previously-announced upcoming UKTV comedies, including Bull, starring Robert Lindsay, Marley’s Ghosts, featuring Sarah Alexander, John Hannah, Jo Joyner, and Nicholas Burns, and another two series of the ever-popular Red Dwarf.

There’s no word yet on whether The Comic Strip Presents… The Red Top! will screen in the US, so stay tuned.


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‘The Comic Strip Presents…’ Takes on Rebekah Brooks and UK Phone Hacking Scandal
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