Aidan Gillen has been cast in a new “affectionate homage” to Dave Allen, the legendary Irish comedian who died in March 2005.
Allen was at one stage Britain’s most controversial comedian, but was also one of its most popular and enjoyed a 40 year career including shows on both ITV and the BBC.
Commissioned by BBC Two and RTE, Dave Allen At Peace is billed as a dramatisation of his life and career and will span his rise from a Butlin’s Redcoat through to his status as a true comedy great.
Written by Stephen Russell (We’re Doomed: The Dad’s Army Story, Hattie, and Peaky Blinders), the one-off film will explore how Dave’s comedy genius was shaped by the tragic loss of his father, his brother and his finger.
It will also retell how how he survived decades of the Roman Catholic Church’s wrath, death threats from the IRA and a ban by Irish and Australian TV, only to have his television career end in controversy when he used the ‘f-word’ in an innocuous joke.
Conleth Hill (Game of Thrones, HBO) will take on the role of Allen’s brother, John. His father and mother will be played by Tommy Tiernan (Father Ted) and Joanne Crawford (Line of Duty).
Also appearing are Robert Bathurst (Cold Feet), Pauline McLynn (Father Ted), Ian McElhinney (Star Wars: Rogue One), Simon Day (The Fast Show) and Julian Rhind-Tutt (Green Wing).
Patrick Holland, Controller of BBC Two, said: “Stephen Russell has written a wonderful script that is surprising, innovative and poignant, exploring the people and forces that went into making Dave Allen the comic genius he was.
“With Aidan Gillen leading a stellar cast, this promises to be a real treat.”
BBC Comedy boss Shane Allen added: “Dave Allen defined and pushed at the boundaries of where television comedy were set and paved the way for modern stand-up to tackle controversial themes and taboos.
“This film explores what shaped his trail-blazing career and celebrates this hugely popular comedian who ridiculed authority figures with a twinkle in his eye, a glass of whiskey and the most talked about finger in comedy history.”
Filming will start this month in Northern Ireland.