The Catherine Tate Show was the idea of legendary comedy producer Geoffrey Perkins (Tiger Aspect Productions) after he saw Catherine perform in her Edinburgh Fringe Festival show in 2001. Derren was a major contributor to that Edinburgh show so when Perkins asked Catherine which writers she would like to work with she said, “my friend Derren is quite funny”. Any other producer would have passed on the offer of a “quite funny” friend with no writing experience but this was what made Geoffrey Perkins the genius he was. The Catherine Tate Show ran for 3 series, of which Derren was the main co-writer for series 1, 2 & 2007 Christmas Special. Apart from the sketches shot on location, series 1 was recorded at Pinewood Studios, largely in front of bemused locals who had never heard of Catherine Tate. Series 2 (and 2007 Christmas Special) was recorded at BBC TV Centre with a largely more appreciative audience. Derren wrote and appeared in many sketches including Janice & Ray, a northern couple who sat on their sofa and recounted tales of ‘unusual’ food they had encountered. Cheese sandwiches with grapes in them, curried goat and soup containing “shit-ache” mushrooms; Janice and Ray’s revolution of ‘adventurous’ food appeared to be unrelenting. Co-stars of The Catherine Tate Show Ella Kenion and Nicky Wardley can be seen in Derren’s hit comedy ‘Benidorm’.
The Spa was a project for SKY channel ‘LIVING’. The Spa is a Hertfordshire health club headed by Leighton Buzzard’s ‘Slimmer of The Decade’, Alison Crabbe; a formidable woman who barely attempts to conceal her dislike for her team – or indeed, The Spa’s customers. Alison has a vision for The Spa – a vision that she feels would be much easier to achieve were it not for the irritating presence of unfit pensioners, scatty receptionists and new age therapists. In reality, it’s Alison herself who’s the main barrier to The Spa’s success, but somehow she manages to get away with it. Probably thanks to the rest of her staff being either equally incompetent or too wrapped up in their own worlds to notice. As well as writing all 8 episodes (including a Christmas/New Years Eve Special) Derren went back to his acting roots and featured as ‘Marcus’, an overweight, wheelchair bound aerobics instructor in the midst of suing his employers. The Spa, starring Rebecca Front and featuring Nicky Wardley, Tim Healy, Debbie Chazen, Chris Geere, Nadine Marshall, Vilma Hollingberry, Cheryl Fergison and Frances Barber. Click here to buy The Spa on DVD.
After leaving The Catherine Tate Show, Geoffrey Perkins gave Derren a ‘blank commission’ to write a half hour narrative comedy. After several weeks of staring at a bank computer screen Derren rang Geoffrey Perkins and asked, “what does narrative comedy mean?”. Apparently it meant a sitcom so Derren’s next question, “about what?”, Geoffrey’s answer was typical, “about half an hour”. After starting with a sketch about middle swingers in a suburban semi, Derren decided to move the location to somewhere slightly more exotic; a package holiday in Benidorm. Series I was commissioned by Paul Jackson at ITV on strength of the first two scripts, it aired on ITV in 2007. A second series was commissioned soon after and with it’s success ITV asked if Derren/Tiger Aspect thought the show would work in a 1 hour format. The new one hour format scripts were written starting with a summer Special which saw the The Garvey family and several other regular characters taken hostage on the roof of the ‘Solana Hotel’. The sudden death of Geoffrey Perkins was a massive blow to the series, he had been Derren’s producer, mentor and close friend but the show continued for six more series (plus a Christmas Special in 2010) taking the show to Series 9 which was aired during Spring 2017 on ITV. Filmimg for a tenth series is underway on location and is expected to be seen on screen during 2018. Benidorm continues to attract record audiences and has won many audience voted awards including 2 National Television Awards for Best Comedy and 2 TV Choice Awards for the same category.
ARE YOU BEING SERVED?
In 2016 Derren was asked to write a new episode of the Jeremy Lloyd and David Croft sitcom Are You Being Served? It was to be a revival still set in 1988 and featured an all star cast playing the original and much loved characters from the show.
John Challis played Captain Peacock, Mrs Slocombe was portrayed by Sherrie Hewson, with Jason Watkins and Roy Barraclough playing Mr Humphries and Mr Grainger respectively.
The show also included several new characters such as Miss Croft who was named as a tribute to the series co-creator.
Shane Allen, BBC comedy commissioner said of the show which was aired August 2016: “The Are You Being Served? special is a riot of a script from Derren and has attracted a real comedy pedigree cast to play homage to this glorious and much loved show.”