Matt Berry’s ‘Toast of London’ is coming to late-night TV
Fans of actor/comedian Matt Berry can rejoice — his BAFTA-winning British comedy series, “Toast of London,” arrives on IFC’s “Slightly Off” late-night programming slate Dec. 4.
IFC is using “Toast of London” as a runup, of sorts, to “Year of the Rabbit,” Berry’s Victorian-era London-based detective comedy that premieres next year on the network.
It’s also good news for fans of Berry’s work on the FX comedy series “What We Do in the Shadows,” where he plays pompous vampire Laszlo Cravensworth — living (and bickering) with his fellow blood-suckers (and boring energy vampire Colin Robinson) in a house on Staten Island. That series, which aired last spring, will return for Season 2 next year and was one of my personal favorites this year.
“Toast of London,” which, arrives here with three seasons under its belt on the UK’s Channel 4, was created and is written by Berry and Arthur Mathews. Berry plays Steven Toast, a blustery, self-important middle-aged British actor who’s going through a divorce while starring in a London stage play so awful that it’s picketed by protestors on a daily basis. It’s so bad, in fact, that it’s never mentioned by name (the title is bleeped out whenever uttered by Toast or anyone else).
Toast has a running feud with fellow actor Ray Purchase (Harry Peacock) — he’s sleeping with Ray’s wife, after all — and has to deal with his ineffective agent, Jane Plough (pronounced “pluff”). She realizes her client’s limitations but doesn’t have the heart (or the energy) to level with him. When the chance to star in a laxative television commercial is offered, she pushes Toast to take the job — probably the best one he’s likely to get going forward.
The laughs here don’t come at a rapid pace, but they’re not intended to: like another self-involved fictional British buffoon — Steve Coogan’s failed TV talk show host Alan Partridge — Toast is unaware that he’s playing the fool, which is what drives the show’s humorous premise and lends a bit of — gasp! — desperate depth to Steven Toast. Each episode closes with a breaking-the-fourth-wall song performed by Toast; Berry is also a musician, and recorded the show’s theme song, “Take My Hand,” for his album “Witchazel.”
The series will premiere Dec. 4 at midnight with back-to-back episodes airing each week, with the Season 1 finale airing Dec. 18. Seasons 2 and 3 will premiere on IFC early next year.
If, like me, you’re a fan of gritty black-and-white TV shows of a certain era shot in and around Manhattan, be sure to check out “Naked City” and “Decoy,” both available on Amazon Prime — and both offering vivid snapshots of New York City street life in the late ’50s and early ’60s.
“Naked City” aired from 1958-63 and was shot at Biograph Studios in the Bronx (on 175th Street). A half-hour version starring James Franciscus aired for one season and gave way to the better-known hourlong episodes starring Paul Burke, Horace McMahon, Harry Bellaver and Nancy Malone. It was created by Stirling Silliphant, also responsible for the equally compelling “Route 66.”
“Decoy” aired for only one season (1957-58) in syndication with star Beverly Garland as NYPD policewoman Patricia “Casey” Jones. It, too, was shot in and around the city and was the first US police show with a female protagonist — groundbreaking for that era.
Source : Michael Starr Link