Peter Kay to star in BBC comedy based on Danny Baker’s life

Phoenix Nights star Kay will appear as a cockney docker alongside EastEnders’ Lucy Speed in Cradle to Grave

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Comic Peter Kay and former EastEnders star Lucy Speed are to appear in an upcoming BBC comedy based on presenter Danny Baker’s early life.

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As RadioTimes.com revealed last July, the eight-part series Cradle to Grave is an adaptation of Danny Baker’s autobiography, Going to Sea in a Sieve. Set in 1974, the upbeat comedy will bring Baker’s tales of his early “wheeler-dealery” years in London’s Bermondsey to vivid life.

Phoenix Nights star Kay will play Danny’s father, Fred ‘Spud’ Baker, with Speed – who played Natalie in EastEnders – taking on the role of his long-suffering wife Bet Baker.

In the comedy, 15 year-old Danny Baker will be played by Laurie Kynaston, offering a guide through the ups and downs of life with the family headed by Fred – a proud south London docker with a penchant for cheeky scheming. 

His wife loves him deeply but longs for the family to go ‘straight’ and play by the rules. With eldest daughter Sharon’s (Alice Sykes) looming wedding, the docks facing closure and Danny’s struggles to get closer to the opposite sex, times are tough.  

Kay said: “I am thrilled and honoured to be involved in a project of this scale. I’ve never known anything like it before, eight period half-hour episodes, shot as feature films and written to an extremely high standard by Danny Baker and Jeff Pope. It’s an exciting time.”

Danny Baker added: “Well this is weird and there’s no way around that. To see your life played out by actors is always going to be peculiar and also, frankly quite tremendous. I always knew these stories were thunderingly entertaining incidents and that I seemed to be hurtling through a particularly unpredictable, high velocity life peopled by extraordinary characters. Now here they are. This will be a fantastic, rich voyage back to a boisterous often maligned era, true tales told large – a strong family in a magnificent working class community just getting on with life.”

Shane Allen, the controller of BBC comedy commissioning, said: “The talents involved in this series are a powder keg of writing and performing British comedy genius. It’s a raucous and rich world of colourful characters and hilarious stories, and like Danny himself it’s shot through with a big-hearted ebullience.”

It is also hoped that the commission will meet BBC TV boss Danny Cohen’s long-standing call for more working-class comedies on the BBC.

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When he took on his former role as boss of BBC1 four years ago, Cohen said he was keen to have more “blue collar” comedies on the channel. Now in his post as director of television at the Corporation, he has oversight of all BBC TV projects.