Spaced Stars: What Happened Next?

It’s that time of year when the TVClaw cavalcade heads to the local cinema to watch the first batch of family-friendly Christmas films.

Some years — The Pirates! — it’s a pleasant surprise, and we all enjoy it. Others — any of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise — it’s a struggle for the over-10s.

The worst case scenario, of none of us enjoying the film, hasn’t happened yet, but yesterday’s outing to see Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger came close.

My review in brief? Most of the actors in this deserve much, much better.  The mere presence of David Tennant was baffling. He did his best in trying circumstances, but the fact that he was even in this film made me feel unutterably sad.

And if I never see anything else starring Marc “Shirley Ghostman” Wootton, I shall be very happy indeed. Jack Black he is not, and no amount of gurning will change that.

However, in the interests of fairness, I have to point out that most of the six children we’d brought, plus the man in front of us who laughed hysterically throughout, thought Nativity 2 was hilarious.

As I sat fidgeting and trying not to hurl my shoes at the screen in disgust, the only ray of sunlight was one of Tennant’s erstwhile co-stars, the always fantastic Jessica Hynes. She was hi-la-ri-ous as bitchy Welsh singer Angel Matthews.

Later on, after the kids had gone to bed and we’d cracked open some sherbet, Mr L and I decided to finally whittle down the stack of LoveFilm DVDs sitting, unwatched, by the television and watch the top one. It turned out to Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

Now, without going into one of those interminable discussions of why Sawyer from Lost was so cruelly underused, or precisely why the International Monetary Fund maintains a roster of oh-so buff, highly trained assassins, the thing that caught my eye was Hynes’ Spaced co-star Simon Pegg front and centre throughout.

I’ve always liked Pegg and his brand of easy affability, even back in the days when he played Saffy’s boyfriend on Faith in the FutureHis post-Spaced career trajectory has been pretty meteoric, with pivotal comedic roles in huge films like Star Trek, Ice Age and Tintin, as well as guest spots on cult fave Robot Chicken (a must for all true Star Wars fan-boys).

Together with the Spaced team Pegg’s also created some of the funniest, most engaging surreal comedy of the last 15 years.

First, he, co-star Nick Frost and director Edgar Wright sparked off the zombie revival with the first part of their Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, the sublime Shaun of the Dead. Then Pegg buffed-up (the influence of his bestie’s wife Gwyneth Paltrow, perhaps) and they moved onto cop parody Hot Fuzz

Next up is their final installment, the Armageddon-themed pub crawl epic The World’s End (currently in production; click over to MovieWeb for set photos.) It threatens to be magnificent.

While Pegg and the lads have been conquering Hollywood, Hynes has been steadily racking up an impressive body of work that includes the memorable role of Joan Redfern in one of the best-ever episodes of Doctor Who. She also stole the Twenty Twelve show as clueless, monotonous PR flack Siobhan.

In a recent interview with  The Independent Hynes revealed that her career is not, thank god, stalled at the Nativity 2 level. She chatted about about her upcoming Suffragette comedy, Up With Women, which, she says “hopefully, on a good day, it will be a kind of female Dad’s Army“.

Hynes has also been commissioned to write the pilot episode for a Sky action series, Justine. “I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed,” she says. “It’s an action series based around a female superhero … it’s Buffy meets Kick-Ass.” Amazeballs!

Keen-eyed viewers will also have spotted Spaced‘s performance artist Brian Topp (a.k.a. Mark Heap) stealing every scene in Friday Night Dinner as the hapless Jim. He and his canine sidekick Wilson are pure comedy gold.

Heap’s also been pulling double-duty this autumn alongside Darren Boyd and Robert Lindsay in the second series of Spy.

As Jane Simon put it so eloquently in The Daily Mirror, “Those three little words: ‘And Mark Heap’ at the start of any sitcom are like a British Standards kitemark guaranteeing that there’ll be nuggets of bizarre brilliance tucked away inside.”

Follow me on Twitter: @TVClaw


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