"Warren United is a celebration of being a football fan - with all the joy and despair that entails"
And Bill Freedman, the 84-year-old Arsenal supporter and show business veteran behind ITV4's new animated series, has advice for Arsene Wenger regarding his injury woes
A new British animation hits our screens tonight, giving one delighted 84-year-old football fan and show business veteran his TV debut.
Bill Freedman, who’s been involved in the London theatre world for decades, first came up with the idea for Warren United eight years ago.
“I’ve never done anything like this before and everyone said it wouldn’t work,” he told us. “It’s notoriously difficult getting an animated series in the UK off the ground. But here we are. I am so proud.”
It’s helped that Freedman has secured the services of some TV big hitters. Simon Nye and David Quantick are part of the writing team and the voices are provided by, among others, Darren Boyd, Morwenna Banks and Johnny Vegas.
The central character is Homeresque football obsessive Warren Kingsley (Boyd), an overweight kitchen salesman whose life revolves around his beloved Brainsford United.
“It’s a celebration of being a football fan, with all the joy and despair that that necessarily entails,” says Freedman.
As an Arsenal season-ticket holder of nearly 50 years standing he knows plenty about both emotions.
“I was describing the series to someone at a game recently and said it’s about a man who has nothing else in his life apart from his family and his football. And he replied ‘like the 62,000 people here today’”.
Unlike many among the Arsenal faithful, Freedman is fully behind manager Arsene Wenger. “I have total support for him. Ninety-five per cent of the games are entertaining. If any player is a drunk or a dope he gets rid of them, the stadium is beautiful, we have never been less than fourth for many years… he’s just going through a bad patch.”
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But Freedman, who was managing director of a group of London theatres and still owns the Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, believes the notoriously meticulous Wenger is overlooking one small piece of detail in his pursuit of football success – pilates.
“I’ve had the audacity to write to Wenger on three occasions inviting the team to my pilates studio in Islington.
“I am crazy about it. I am going to be 85 in August and I do pilates every day and I think that 80 per cent of my health is to do with good luck and 20 per cent to do with pilates. I’m sure some of the injury problems that Arsenal have had would have been prevented by regular classes of pilates.”
Warren United starts tonight, Tuesday 22 April, on ITV4 at 10pm