Peter Kay swaps Lancashire for London in new sitcom based on Danny Baker book
Comedian Peter Kay makes his first return to television tonight since successful BBC One sitcom Peter Kay's Car Share, but without his familiar Lancashire accent.
The Lancashire star has swapped hot pots for jellied eels to play broadcaster Danny Baker's father in 1970s-set comedy drama, Cradle To Grave.
Adapted from Baker's memoir Going To Sea In A Sieve, the eight-part BBC Two series has been co-written with Jeff Pope, who scripted ITV's hugely successful biopic Cilla, starring Sheridan Smith as the late star.
Kay plays Fred, the jovial, wheeler-dealer, Del Boy-like patriarch of a family who live in a council flat in Bermondsey, south London.
Long-suffering wife Bet is played by The Bill's Lucy Speed, with newcomer Laurie Kynaston as the teenage Danny.
Hearing the accent the northern comedian adopted for the role is disconcerting at first; he sounds like a cast member of EastEnders.
But the 42-year-old is a commanding presence on the screen.
Talking about Kay's performance, Baker said: "Peter, yes, Bolton to his boots, but he's also an actor. He always wanted to be like his hero Ronnie Barker and he has that quality; I think he's the natural heir to that sort of actor."
Recreating the 1970s presented challenges, but careful attention to detail extended to even finding the exact wallpaper Baker had in his bedroom.
Cradle To Grave avoids the more negative aspects of the decade such as the Three-Day Week, economic strife and high inflation.
Instead, it presents the everyday concerns of a typical working class family such as having enough money to pay the bills and, for a teenager, finding a place to be alone with a girlfriend.
"If you watch Fawlty Towers and The Likely Lads there's no inkling the world's burning down. People are going into pubs and talking. It's not newsworthy, but the mundanity is part of the poetry of it," Baker insists.
The author and presenter is already working on a second series of Cradle To Grave, even though the first is yet to air.
"They are very powerful characters. It's just good stories. This is a reality, it's not the reality of growing up in our house. My friends are a hybrid of all my friends. We got the dynamics right."
Cradle To Grave airs tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.