The Understudy

Series 1 - Episode 5 The Understudy



The biggest challenge Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton have set themselves, with this anthology of one-off dark comedies, has been pouring a new story into the pint pot that is half an hour of TV. They manage it with panache here, in another fable of the unforeseeable that gallops unerringly to a horrible conclusion.

Pemberton is a boorish, bitter stage actor taking the lead in the Scottish Play. He's dismissive of his co-stars, the audience and particularly his meek understudy Jim (Shearsmith). But Jim's fiancée isn't willing to let her other half stay stuck in the wings...

It's a magnificent meta-Macbeth, full of daggers before and spots that damn. Knowing the text will take you only halfway and, in any case, the clever plot is really just a vehicle for characters sketched fully in only a few lines, and a torrent of fruity luvvie gags about jealousy, superstition and stage-hogging hams. Delicious.


Successful West End actor Tony Warner's tour-de-force performance as Macbeth is the toast of the Duke of Cambridge Theatre, but his overbearing personality makes life hell for his fellow thespians. It would be very bad luck indeed if he was suddenly indisposed in some way - although not for Jim, his ever-hopeful understudy. Comedy, starring Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton, Lyndsey Marshal and Julia Davis.

Cast & Crew

Kirstie Rosie Cavaliero
Tony Steve Pemberton
Jim Reece Shearsmith
Bill Roger Sloman
Jean Di Botcher
Laura Lyndsey Marshal
Felicity Julia Davis
Nick Richard Cordery
Malcolm Bruce Mackinnon
Macduff Jo Stone-Fewings
Director David Kerr
Producer Adam Tandy
Writer Steve Pemberton
Writer Reece Shearsmith
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