Much like both Benedict Cumberbatch and Bill Nighy, I believe Sir Ian McKellen could read the phone book and I would be in the front row. So just the thought of the possibility of a comedy series that stars Sir Ian along with Sylvester McCoy (Doctor Who), Frances Barber (Silk) and Jonathan Hyde (Titanic) gives one hope that the comedy pipeline is on the rise. While the mockumentary-style pilot was recorded back in 2009, the series has been revived by DLT Entertainment (As Time Goes By, My Family) and 2act Productions for possible series pick up. As hard as this style is to perfect, given the stellar cast and the recent success of another similarly styled British comedy, Twenty Twelve, not to mention the historical successes of The Office and People Like Us, I really hope this gets a chance.
The Academy is based around the fictional Clapham Academy of Creative Arts (CACA). The show follows the story of the struggling South London drama school, which is run by Murray McKellen (Sir Ian’s fictional brother, played by McKellen). CACA used to be an excellent, if small, establishment, but in recent years, especially following a global recession, it has started to fall into disarray. The faculty has come up with ‘an ingenious plan’ to allow a documentary film crew to capture the behind the scenes activities and events in a “typical” British drama school with the hope this will bring notoriety and much needed funding.
In true mockumentary fashion, McKellen said: “I am delighted that my brother Murray McKellen is at last able to do something positive about the frankly dire financial mess at his acting Academy in Clapham… yet another victim of the global financial situation disaster. He and his staff deserve the highest praise for their dedication and professionalism which bring joy and light to their students and to their neighbours in Clapham.“