Sheds of the rich and famous

As the surreal late-night comedy Shedtown returns to Radio 4 for a second series, Tony Pitts, Stephen Mangan and Maxine Peake invite us down their garden paths

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Sheds of the rich and famous
Written By
David Crawford

Tony Pitts (creator, writer and director, plays Barry)

I am a man. I have a shed. More than that, I have two sheds…. I am Tony ‘Two Sheds’ Pitts.

Despite creating and writing Shedtown I must confess neither shed is a retreat. Or a Cupranolled man cave. Or a male handbag.

Shed One contains a collection of garden implements and tools misguided relatives have bought me over the years. I occasionally look at them. And Shed Two is home (or more correctly, dining room) to my three big daft wet dogs.

Shed, dogs, Shedtown

Neither shed is a personal sanctuary to which I withdraw from the hell of other people. My head is my shed. It is crammed with my passions and memories… and a collection of photos of pigeons in distress.

I recently stained both sheds a pragmatic dark oak, one sunny winter’s morning, looking out to a chain-rolling sea as I listened to Richard Hawley. And I found myself weeping uncontrollably…. I think I preferred them green. 

Steven ManganStephen Mangan (new cast member, plays Jimmy)

When I bought my first house, three years ago, one of the things I most yearned for was a garden. A garden! A lawn to gambol on in the summer months, flowerbeds to grow banks of wildly beautiful blooms, trees to idle under on hot autumn afternoons and, most excitingly, a shed.

Let’s face it - a man without a shed is half a man. And I’d been a half-man for too long.

In the event, we bought a house in Central London. Central London means a small garden. A very small garden. No lawn, one tree, eight flowers. And a small garden means a small shed. A very small shed.

My shed is so small it could comfortably double as my coffin. It’s so crammed with junk that I haven’t dared open it for three months in case I get buried under the avalanche of tat that will inevitably fall out. I’m sure there are unclassifiable creatures living in the bottom of it.

I built it myself. Well – I assembled it from a flat pack. But it needed hammering, and painting, and roofing-felt pinning on.

OK – it’s a rubbish shed.

But it’s my shed. I have a shed now.

Maxine Peake (narrates the series)

I have a shed. It's quite paltry really, more of a sentry box than a shed. It stands flush against my back wall and contains various watery tins of matt emulsion. Tony, the conjurer extraordinaire of the magical world of Shedtown, has two but Tony, while being more articulate and creative than me, is also far more of a show-off.

I do dream of a bigger structure, something reminiscent of Derek Jarman's Dungeness dwelling, all dark wood and yellow trim. But then I even suffer from shed envy whenever I visit my granddad (see picture).

I did have a rather smashing wooden Wendy house when I was young. And a horse (don't let the accent fool you). After a spate of it being hijacked by the more sexually adventurous kids on my street as a den of 'You show me yours and I'll show you mine', it lay unused and unloved till the late 80s when at 14 my two psychedelia-loving amigos Justine and Lucy and myself reclaimed it as our Bohemian Boltonian hangout.

We smoked grilled banana skins and sipped on hot Vimto while redecorating the interior in a John Squire/ Jackson Pollock-influenced splatter. The only thing that got us high was the copious paint fumes.

Needless to say my mother, on discovering our artistic endeavours, hit the roof (somewhere just below her shoulder blades).

Shedtown returns to Radio 4 tonight at 11pm

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