Page last updated at 07:34 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 08:34 UK

We need to talk about Kevin

Kevin Bishop as Heston Blumenthal, Gok Wan and Brad Pitt
Heston Blumenthal, Gok Wan and Brad Pitt - the many faces of Kevin Bishop

by Kev Geoghegan
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

The first series of The Kevin Bishop Show in August 2008 came second only to Big Brother in terms of the number of complaints made to Channel 4.

Not particularly surprising when sketches included musical parodies of Holocaust drama Sophie's Choice and convicted murderer Fred West.

One viewer wrote: "Please consider taking this programme off air as it has caused offence to so many people."

And in Star Stories, which lampoons the life stories of the rich and shameless, Bishop has impersonated the likes of George Michael, Ewan McGregor, Robbie Williams, Simon Cowell, Peter Andre and even God.

I'm not going to do a sketch about Jade Goody, Michael Jackson and Maddie McCann. Those sort of things aren't really funny
Kevin Bishop

And he came under fire last year when he heckled Ricky Gervais and threw bottles at the cast and producers of The Inbetweeners as they accepted best new comedy at the British Comedy Awards, beating The Kevin Bishop Show.

"They're pals and they've always been mates. I was surprised the press made it an aggressive thing because that's ridiculous," says Bishop.

"Everybody in that room has worked together at some point. Iain Morris, who caught the bottle that I threw, gave me my first job on Channel 4. I was really pleased that he won and I think The Inbetweeners is a brilliant show."

Blaming the organisers for "plying you with crisps and booze", Bishop earned the ire of tabloids who accused him of being a bad loser.

Fred West Side Story

Despite a fast-growing reputation as a comedy bad boy, Bishop denies that his sketch show, returning for a second series, sets out to deliberately offend.

"We have an obligation to ourselves when something is funny and makes us laugh," he says. "It's got to go in the show otherwise we're not being true to ourselves.

Kevin Bishop as Harry Hill
Bishop says Harry Hill enjoyed his own parody in the show

"Last year, we did a sketch called Fred West Side Story and that was my favourite sketch ever but got the most complaints.

"You have to kind of push those buttons. If something is predictable, it's dull. You're not getting anywhere and it's not making people laugh. The thing that makes you laugh is that shock and emotion."

In a show where Bishop can transform himself to play a stereotype rapper and joke about Tim Westwood's show Pimp My Ride featuring Stephen Hawking, is anything off limits?

"Yeah, of course, I'm not going to do a sketch about Jade Goody, Michael Jackson and Maddie McCann. Those sort of things aren't really funny. People aren't going to laugh at that, so there are some things that are off limits," he says.

"We don't want to make people feel sick. I think the secret to making a show that everyone likes is making the person who you're taking the mickey out of laugh as well."

The second run of Bishop's show looks likely be no less controversial in its second series, with more impersonations of celebrities including Simon Cowell and Hugh Laurie.

There's Andy Sugar - who is Alan Sugar's brother - and is a car mechanic and keeps firing people even though he's not the boss
Kevin Bishop

Bishop also impersonates illusionist Derren Brown, but in the guise of his taxi-driving brother.

"The Darren Brown sketch is part of a thing we do called Celebrity Siblings," he explains.

"There's Tristan Bale, he works in a call centre, and there's Andy Sugar - who is Alan Sugar's brother - and is a car mechanic and keeps firing people even though he's not the boss."

Christian Bale in particular is a subject that delights Bishop, who laughs at the memory of the actor's infamous meltdown on the set of the latest Terminator move.

"Everyone has heard his rant on the internet - we just lifted his lines and put them into a call centre conversation.

"He's like: 'Did you pull out my phone wire, did I go and pull out your phone wire?'

Fans of Star Stories will be disappointed to learn that there is not another series of Star Stories coming this year, but Bishop "hopes it's not dead".

Fat Pig

He says he would like to do a special on Mel Gibson "because he's had such a mad rollercoaster couple of years.

"We could revisit old ones - the story of Madonna just goes on and on, he adds."

Kevin Bishop as Brad Pitt
Bishop has yet to hear what the Hollywood celebrities think

Last year, Bishop returned to his first love, the stage, in the West End production of Neil LaBute's play Fat Pig, opposite Kelly Brook.

He cultivated a friendship with the US writer and director who, Bishop says, has written a TV show for him based around celebrity culture.

"It's a comedy-drama and its absolutely brilliant," he explains. "It's for television but I told him it would make a great film. It's still at a very early stage.

"It's split between here and the US - it's a very clever concept and Neil wrote it in about 24 hours. He just didn't sleep. Kelly Brook was surrounded by it and was papped everywhere she went, which gave him the idea.

"He's one of those guys who is just very impulsive and gets caught up in the moment.

The Kevin Bishop Show starts on Friday 31 July on Channel 4.



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