After receiving an Emmy nomination for his work as a Vice-Presidential dark horse in Armando Iannucci’s political satire Veep, Hugh Laurie is returning to HBO – in the lead role of Iannucci’s new project, Avenue 5.
Described as a ‘space comedy’, Avenue 5 is set in the future. Laurie is to play Ryan Clark, the captain of the Avenue 5 – suggesting major sci-fi elements of a Star Trek-ish flavour.
Since leaving Veep at the end of its fourth season to spend more time in his home country, Iannucci has been focusing more on film than TV – bringing us 2017’s critically acclaimed The Death Of Stalin, and the upcoming The Personal History Of David Copperfield, a modern-day Dickens adaptation which will also feature Laurie as the flighty Mr. Dick.
An Iannucci-Laurie combination is, on the face of it, a winning formula. Both men have impeccable comedy credentials. Laurie cut his teeth starring in the legendary histori-comedy series Blackadder, often alongside frequent collaborator Stephen Fry, with whom he went on to write and perform in sketch show A Bit Of Fry And Laurie. Of late, though, he’s focused more on drama, and has been putting on an American accent (albeit convincingly) ever since he played the lead role in medical drama House, so his return to comedy is a welcome change.
Iannucci, meanwhile, was producer for the early Chris Morris comedies On The Hour and The Day Today, but is perhaps best known for The Thick Of It, the definitive Blair-era political satire, which in 2009 was adapted into the film In The Loop, and which starred future Doctor Who Peter Capaldi as the consummately profane Malcolm Tucker. Veep was a loose adaptation of The Thick Of It, which is on its own high praise – cross-Atlantic adaptations have a worrying tendency to be shit.
HBO are no fools – the initial order included both a pilot episode and backup scripts, so they seem pretty certain they’re onto a good thing. The pilot is to shoot in London this year, which, for Iannucci, is a far more manageable commute.
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