Kevin Bishop. You probably recognise the name, you might even have heard of the Kevin Bishop Show. But perhaps you’re watching BBC’s remake of Porridge wondering just who is the man who’s stepped into Ronnie Barker’s (frankly ginormous) shoes.
At 36 years old, Bishop has spent the best part of two decades in the entertainment industry, and his start was strong. Remember Jim Hawkins from 1996 film Muppet Treasure Island? That was him, appearing as the young orphan alongside the likes of Tim Curry, Jennifer Saunders, Billy Connolly, and – of course – Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.
It was an auspicious beginning for the then 16-year-old, who went on to make guest appearances in Silent Witness and Peep Show, as well as a stint as “Stupid Brian” on My Family. But it was Star Stories that put his name on the map.
The Channel 4 series offering satirical takes on celebrities and their lives featured Bishop as the breakout star, earning the actor and comedian nominations at the British Comedy Awards and BAFTAs for his portrayals of George Michael, Tom Cruise, Robbie Williams and many more (unfortunate) subjects.
Newly established on the comedy circuit, The Kevin Bishop Show soon followed – the eponymous sketch series which saw Bishop rattle through a steady stream of fast-paced skits. The show ran for two series on Channel 4, but wasn’t without its controversies, with a musical parody of Holocaust drama Sophie’s Choice prompting scores of complaints to the broadcaster.
More recently Bishop crossed the pond in a bid to break the States, landing a major role in Super Fun Night – a new comedy written by and starring Rebel Wilson. Not heard of it? That’s probably because it was cancelled after just one series and never aired here in the UK.
Still, Bishop emerged relatively unscathed and tonight stars in the BBC’s remake of Porridge, playing the grandson of Ronnie Barker’s Fletch. His performance is strong, the remake itself, less so, but Bishop already has his next project in his sights – a mouth-watering role as Nigel Farage in BBC’s new comedy about the UKIP leader’s retirement.
We think you’ll agree, it’s the perfect subject for a TV comedy.
Porridge airs tonight at 9:30pm on BBC1