Idris Elba returns to 1980s childhood in new Sky 1 comedy In The Long Run

Bill Bailey will play the chief sidekick in a new family comedy set in east London in 1985 in which the Luther star plays a lovable family man inspired by his own Dad

Idris Elba

Idris Elba, the Luther star and possible Bond-in-waiting, is to star in a Sky1 comedy drama which draws heavily from his own childhood growing up in inner London in the 1980s.

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Called In the Long Run, Elba’s character Walter is understood to be partly modelled on his own father Winston, who died aged 72 in 2013.

Comedian Bill Bailey will play Walter’s best mate in the show, which is part of Sky’s drive for more grown-up comedy on its main entertainment channel.

Set in London 1985, it focuses on the Easmon family; Elba plays Walter, who had arrived from Sierra Leone with his wife Evelyn 13 years before.

“Amid the tower blocks and shell suits, life for Walter is all about quiet routine and they are happy earning enough to pay the bills with a bit left over to send back home,” says the broadcaster.

“Walter works hard alongside his mate and neighbour Bagpipes (Bill Bailey) at the local factory while Evelyn patrols the estate selling make-up door-to-door. Their British born son Akuna and his best mate Scott hang out on the estate playing football and doing their best to dodge the local thugs.

“But when Walter’s brother Valentine arrives to the UK, his energy and lust for life changes everything. He crashes into their lives bringing laughter and chaos and igniting a passion for music in Akuna. And though he frustrates Evelyn and tests Walter’s patience, Akuna adores his ‘funcle’ Valentine because after all, he’s family.”

Elba is billed as creator and executive producer on the show which has been written by Claire Downes, Ian Jarvis and Stuart Lane (The Job Lot) and Grace Ofori-Attah.

Elba said, “I’m really happy to be in comedy, bringing some joy into a world that needs some laughs. With a great team behind it I look forward to people seeing it.”

In the Long Run was ordered by Adam MacDonald, Director Sky 1, and Jon Mountague, Head of Comedy at Sky.

Mountague said, “We’re honoured to be working with Idris in what is an authentic, perceptive and deeply funny show. In the Long Run will surprise and delight viewers.”

The commission is part of Sky1’s overhaul of its comedy output which includes two new shows, one written by and starring An Idiot Abroad’s Karl Pilkington, and another by comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

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Other commissions include Living the Dream a six-part series from the makers of Cold Feet starring Philip Glenister (Outcast, Mad Dogs) and Lesley Sharp (Scott & Bailey, Paranoid) as an English family attempting to start a new life in Florida.