David Walliams has returned to sketch comedy but this time he won’t be the one that’s crossdressing.
Walliams & Friend is a new British comedy show staring David Wallaims and Jack Whitehall, at times, as husband and wife. This time though, Wallaims has handed the role of crossdresser over to his ‘wife’ Whitehall.
“I’m obviously very well known for cross-dressing,” Walliams smiles, “and I thought it was time to change. I’ve got to watch it or it’s all I’ll be remembered for. ‘Did David Walliams do comedy?’ ‘No, I just remember him dressing as a woman’.”
The first episode also includes a Sherlock spoof and a middle class version of Jeremy Kyle.
“Jack Whitehall is so, so funny. In fact, he is too funny. He needs to be stopped,” jokes Walliams, 45.
“He made me feel really old when he told me, ‘I used to love watching Little Britain when I was at school’. ‘I’m sorry, how old are you?’ He’s still in his 20s. It’s absurd.”
Whitehall isn’t the only guest star that will collab with Wallaims. You can expect the likes of Meera Syal (Goodness Gracious Me), Miranda Richardson (Blackadder), Sheridan Smith (Cilla), comedian Harry Enfield, and Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) to appear throughout the series.
David explains one of the reasons for having a new guest star in each episode: “It means the show can reinvent itself week to week. It feels very fresh and never gets boring.
“In other sketch shows, there are a lot of reasons why you end up doing the same characters every week. You need at least 100 sketches for a series and that’s hard. But if you’re writing for specific people, you can constantly reinvent the show.”
Walliams believes the sketch show is still a perennially popular format.
“A sketch show is a great way of doing comedy because it is constantly refreshing itself. If you don’t like one sketch, another one will be along in a minute. People often try to write off sketch shows and say that they’re finished. But they are a perfectly good way of doing comedy. You can also cover a lot of ground doing sketches. You can do everything from spoofs to relationship comedy.”
However Wallaims was very conscious that this new show would not appear like a remake of Little Britain.
“The big thing for me was to be different from Little Britain. On that show, we didn’t do historical sketches or spoofs. Little Britain had a very strong idea of its own identity. I didn’t want Walliams & Friend to be like a spin-off of that. I wanted it to be very much its own thing. Hopefully, it’ll stand out because there are so few sketch shows these days. We’re trying to be funny in a very uncomplicated way. You don’t have to think too much – it’s just meant to be a fun watch. The moving moments in The Office are magic. But comedy is valid in all its different forms.”
Walliams & Friend, TVNZ 1, starts Thursday January 26.