Page last updated at 16:14 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010
Paul Whitehouse back in character for TV series
Paul Whitehouse as Graham Downes in Bellamy's People
Whitehouse dons a fat suit to play Graham Downes in Bellamy's People

Comedian Paul Whitehouse returns with a whole new range of characters as he is reunited with Charlie Higson for their first TV series in 10 years.

Bellamy's People stars Rhys Thomas as a radio host who travels throughout the UK to find out what makes people tick.

The series is an adaptation of the spoof phone-in Down The Line which Rhondda-born Whitehouse wrote for Radio 4 with his former Fast Show colleague.

Bellamy's People begins on BBC Two on Thursday at 10pm.

Paul Whitehouse: "You have to dig deep to find the joke"

Whitehouse and Higson are joined by a string of familiar comedy faces including Lucy Montgomery, Simon Day, Rosie Cavaliero and Felix Dexter as they take on a gamut of quintessentially British characters.

They include a 23-stone man who rarely leaves his bed, a pair of aristocratic sisters with an unhealthy love of totalitarian regimes, and a barely reformed celebrity criminal.

As hapless radio talk-show host Gary Bellamy, Thomas steps onto the small screen into his Triumph Stag "personality vehicle" and travels the length and breadth of the land meeting the people of Britain and trying to find out what makes them tick.

Whitehouse says much of the comedy comes as Bellamy finds it more difficult to relate to people face to face than on a radio phone-in, especially when he meets a Muslim family.

Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse as Ralph and Ted in The Fast Show
Higson and Whitehouse were loved as Ralph and Ted in The Fast Show

"It's about his inability to talk to them," Whitehouse told the Radio Times.

"They're very nice and waiting for him to frame a question, but he can never get the words right - he's terrified he might offend them, so he's stuck in his room going 'would you say? ... no...' and they're just sitting waiting.

"It's about the inability to communicate and we really are there, aren't we?"

Whitehouse's characters in Bellamy's People include the 23-stone Graham Downes, an army officer, and sexist painter and decorator Martin Hole.

He points out that there's a more serious edge to the new series compared to The Fast Show and Harry and Paul.

"Bellamy's People is an opportunity not just to fall over and put on a silly wig - as much as I like doing the daft comedy with Harry, this gives us the chance to address some issues."

Whitehouse and Higson once worked together as decorators in London and turned their hand to writing comedy sketches after meeting Harry Enfield in a pub.

They helped create comedy characters for Enfield such as kebab shop owner Stavros before launching their own series, The Fast Show.

In 2009 Whitehouse won his fourth Bafta award for Harry and Paul - his BBC TV sketch series with Enfield.

He'd previously won two awards for The Fast Show in 1998, and another in 2006 for the therapy-based comedy series Help.

Bellamy's People starts on BBC Two on Thursday 21 January at 2200 GMT

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