The new hour-long TV special will feature Mischief Theatre’s trademark mix of farce and physical comedy. The comic take on Charlies Dickens’ classic novel – which has been scripted by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields – is the company’s first original television piece, never before produced on the stage.
The BBC explains the plot as follows: “Blacklisted by the BBC after ruining Peter Pan, the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society are not taking their ban lying down and force themselves back on the BBC by hijacking the jewel of the Christmas schedule, a ‘live’ production of A Christmas Carol staged by a professional cast.
“The following hour finds the Cornley gang trying to make the show work on ‘live’ television as they soon realise they are completely out of their depth with no idea how to direct a live studio or handle special effects and are having their own internal rivalries revealed on television. Plus, there’s an angry professional cast trying to get back into the studio.”
Derek Jacobi plays the famous miser Ebenezer Scrooge in the BBC’s ‘professional’ production… until it is hijacked by the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and he is hauled out while on air. Diana Rigg meanwhile will play the aunt of Sandra, one of the Cornley crew. She will also step in as the narrator, “as well as on the accelerator as she races against the clock to make it to the recording before the curtains close.”
Derek Jacobi, who portrayed Dickens in the 2007 film The Riddle, says: “It’s always a delight to be reacquainted with Dickens and A Christmas Carol is emblematic of this time of year. I hear that last year’s festive theatre production was an all-out shambles, but thankfully the BBC has called in the professionals for this one…”
Diana Rigg says: “I can’t wait to bring merriment and mischief to audiences this Christmas, with the wonderful Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. And I have also been entrusted with another very important job – all will be revealed soon but let’s just say hearts will be warmed this winter!”
The BBC’s Shane Allen adds: “A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong was already shaping up to be a seasonal highlight but with Sir Derek Jacobi and Dame Diana Rigg joining the cast it’s an unmissable television event. Let’s hope nothing goes wrong.”
The dress rehearsal for A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong has now taken place (pictured), with the episode in full due to be recorded in front of a studio audience in Salford tomorrow night (2nd December).
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