On Wednesday night, rock legend Brian Pern was killed off by his creator Rhys Thomas – or was he?
Viewers watched a BBC4 tribute to the late star from friends and associates including Phil Collins, Luke Dunmore (played by former Doctor Who star Christopher Eccleston, below) and Thotch band members Tony Pebble (Nigel Havers) and Pat Quid (Paul Whitehouse).
Only all was not as it seemed.
In the last sequence, it was shown that the whole story of Pern’s demise was an elaborate ruse by his band manager John Farrow (Michael Kitchen) to boost sales of the singer’s records. His death was concocted.
In fact Day’s rocker was shown – in ‘found’ footage reminiscent of The Blair Witch Project – alone in the South American jungle and still very much alive. And, as with all series of Brian Pern, a menacing looking Peter Gabriel was close by with ill intent in his eyes (this was all shot in Kew Gardens by the way).
So the question is: is Brian dead?
“The twist is he’s not dead, it’s really fake. But we really aren’t going to do any more, so we had Peter Gabriel turn up at the end,” Thomas tells RadioTimes.com.
“We’ll leave it to people’s imaginations what happened there. Peter Gabriel probably did kill him. Brian might come back, if we don’t get any other work! If people love it and it wins awards you might want to bring it back, but at the moment you think, ‘Na’.”
Barring that intriguing last revival, Thomas says it was the right time to bid farewell to Brian.
“We have done enough with him now. I didn’t want people to think we’ve done the last one and he’s really alive. There won’t be any more after this one. That’s the end. Personally, though, I think [Peter Gabriel] did kill him. I think he’s dead.”
However, Thomas added that he is mulling over ideas for spin-off series with Messrs Farrow or Pebble and Quid: “I think the rest of the characters might come back. I would love to do that.”
Thomas explained that the comedy – which has run for three BBC series – has been a cult hit but has not attracted massive audiences because, he guessed, that many people were “put off” it because they thought it was “just for music lovers”.
“Brian Pern as a comedy is really overlooked,” he said. “It’s not really on anyone’s radar. No one’s ever heard of it. The few people who like it love it. You feel like you’re banging your head against a wall a bit. I want to do something that is on people’s radar and has wider appeal.”
So that’s the answer. Pern is dead… probably. But in the event of a sudden resurgence of interest he might – just might – be resurrected…
Ben has worked as a professional journalist specialising in TV and the arts for nearly twenty years writing for Stage newspaper, Sunday Mirror and the Sunday Times, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Broadcast, Independent and the New Statesman where he wrote a column.