Toast of London returns next month and Matt Berry’s luvvie hero is back to his old tricks, which will be music to the ears of those who have enjoyed the antics of this larger-than-life, monstrously pompous and self-important actor over the past two series.
This upcoming run opens with a rollicking first episode which sees Toast judge a beauty competition – not Miss World (the organisers of that event wouldn’t let them use the name) but a contest, well, a bit like it.
Only in Toast-world, this competition has become so underground it is held in a barn in the middle of the countryside, away from the prying eyes of the “feminists” who the organisers (one played by Paul Whitehouse) are convinced will ruin everyone’s fun.
“It’s so discredited it’s now like dogging – a handful of people in a shed,” laughed Berry’s writing partner Arthur Mathews at last night’s screening. (He’s talking about the fictional beauty competition, may I stress).
Toast obviously takes the judging gig – but will his latest job spoil things between his new lover, weather girl and ardent feminist Clancy Moped (one of many new brilliant names this series)? As if you haven’t guessed already…
Joining Toast and flatmate Ed Howzer-Black (Robert Bathurst) is Peter Davison – the real Peter Davison, as in Peter Davison of Doctor Who and All Creatures Great and Small fame.
Though of course Toast calls him Davidson with a ‘d’ and this Davison has an obviously fictional interest in making illicit hooch that blows the socks off even hardened drinker Steven.
And Davison – “bloody Davidson” as Toast calls him – never EVER does the washing up.
There is a further nod to Doctor Who this series when a man dressed as Tom Baker’s Doctor (complete with brown wide-brimmed hat, long coat and scarf) is nonchalantly enjoying a drink in Toast’s members club.
As Berry said at last night’s screening, Toast is set in the present day but the feel, the essence of it, is the acting world of the late 1970s and 1980s when Baker was at his zenith.
Episode two sees Toast getting stage fright in an episode where he also encounters Stanley Kubrick filming fake moon landings. Will Toast screw things up for the great director as he seeks to hoax the world about Neil Armstrong’s triumph? (Well, of course he will). The results are brilliant.
In later episodes, as RadioTimes.com has previously revealed, we also meet Steven’s Dad in the form of Brian Blessed and Toast gets a charisma lesson from Mad Men star Jon Hamm (playing himself). Toast doesn’t believe in the concept of charisma, which he dismisses as a “myth” until he meets the actor and develops a man crush. (Or a mad crush, I suppose you could call it).
Also guest starring in another episode is Timothy West playing a jovial but catastrophically weak recovering alcoholic and Simon Cartwright who pops up doing a brilliant Bob Monkhouse later in the run. (In Toast world, fabled showbiz legends can be brought back from the dead. In the last series it was artist Francis Bacon).
I am a big Toast of London fan and I’d say that some of the mega surreal excesses of previous series have been slightly reined in, but the results are no less enjoyable.
And there are some brilliant names. I’ve already mentioned one Clancy Moped but get ready to meet Pooky Hook, too.
And of course there is Clem Fandango, Toast’s ghastly voiceover rival who this series has been given some truly wonderful T-shirts, including one that has a large square hole exposing his breasts, chest and navel. It’s worth watching the show for these moments alone…
Toast of London returns to Channel 4 in November