Steve’s scary New Year

Whitechapel christmas:  League of Gentlemen star Steve Pemberton returns in crime drama Whitechapel in the New Year and also in a new series with Reece Shearsmith
Whitechapel christmas: League of Gentlemen star Steve Pemberton returns in crime drama Whitechapel in the New Year and also in a new series with Reece Shearsmith
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Chorley star Steve Pemberton is gearing up for an exciting 2013 – and it means we’ll be seeing a lot more of him on our TV screens.

The comedian and actor, who grew up in Chorley and first found fame as part of black comedy team, The League of Gentleman, is to return with a new series of dark crime drama Whitechapel.

And the former St Michael’s pupil, who also stars in expat series Benidorm, is also working on a brand new project with his League of Gentlemen partner Reece Shearsmith.

The comic revealed earlier this year that he and Shearsmith, with whom he penned the British Comedy Award winning series Psychoville, had plans to write together again and that they had set aside time to work on a new series.

But now they have a script and are all set to broadcast their new work later this year. Pemberton says: “I’m doing a new show with Reece soon; we’re about to start filming on that, which will be on BBC Two next autumn. There’s lots happening and the good thing is it’s all very varied, very exciting and keeps me interested.

“It’s darkly comic. It’s six self-contained stories, so it’s not a big, overarching storyline, like we did with Psychoville. They’re kind of mini-plays, like Tales Of The Unexpected in a way - six different stories with six different casts. So it’s a really exciting project and we’ve got great people to come along and be in those.”

He is also due to start filming the next series of Whitechapel in January – and this time, he has also written two episodes himself.

But he can’t yet reveal any details. He says: “Not really, no – other than the fact it’s going to be as creepy and scary as ever!

“What the last series showed is that it can push the boundaries of a cop show. It’s not just a routine detective thriller, it has elements of the horror film in it as well.

“And it’s got a great atmosphere. We’re trying to preserve that and keep it going, and get people hiding behind their cushions. It goes from strength to strength and we’ve hit our stride with it now.

He loves playing the character of Buchan in the show and says: 
“Absolutely – it’s this combination of the comic side of what I do with the dark, macabre side; this brings it all together really.

“Buchan is a great role for me as well, down in his archive with all his files... People are never quite sure if he enjoys the murders just a little bit too much, you know?

“There’s something quite sinister about him, and I’ve really enjoyed what the writers have come up with him to do.”

With such a variety of great roles, meeting him in person can sometimes be a confusing experience for his fans. He laughs: “Sometimes people can’t quite think what they know me from!

“I’ve been very lucky to have Whitechapel and Benidorm running almost simultaneously, and they’re two very different shows.

“But there are certainly the Whitechapel fans, the Benidorm fans and then The League Of Gentlemen is still talked about a lot, it’s never really gone away. And of course now Psychoville, which me and Reece Shearsmith did quite recently.”

Last night, he starred in ITV1’s charity telethon, Text Santa, penning a spoof version of Whitechapel, called Snow White Chapel. Pemberton says: “I was asked by the team to write a spoof version of Whitechapel, and I came up with the title first. It’s a mash-up of the fairy tale and the TV show – there’s a body found with a poisoned apple and the detectives go on the trail to find the murderer.

“That unleashed my imagination. As soon as I came up with that it gave me the framework I needed. It’s been really fun to do, but it’s been strange doing the silly version of Whitechapel, knowing that we’re back in the same place soon, doing the serious version of it.

“But it’s great; obviously I’ve done a lot of comedy before, but many actors have got great comic bones. Phil (Davis) and Rupert (Penry-Jones) are really funny, but they don’t get a chance to show it.

“I think viewers like seeing actors not taking things so seriously.

“When I did the spoof, I took Airplane! as my model because I love the fact that you can be doing a very serious scene and then something ridiculous happens.

“But when we come back and do the real series... I think Whitechapel has always been a show that’s had a sense of humour about itself, and we all have a laugh – we’re good mates, so there’ll be no confusion.

“We’ll be back in serious mode!”

Pemberton has always had a charitable streak and his appearance on the celebrity version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire this year proved he hasn’t forgotten his old home town either.

He says: “I was on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire this year. There’s a local charity in Lancashire where I’m from called Derian House, which is a children’s hospice, so it was great to give them a really good chunk of money.”

The new series of Whitechapel is due to air in Spring.