Noel Fielding puts silly spin on 'Dick Turpin' highwayman legend

Left to right, Ellie White, Noel Fielding, Marc Wootton and Duayne Boachie in "The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin," premiering Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.
1 of 2 | Left to right, Ellie White, Noel Fielding, Marc Wootton and Duayne Boachie in "The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin," premiering Friday. Photo courtesy of Apple TV+.

NEW YORK, March 1 (UPI) -- Noel Fielding of The Mighty Boosh and The Great British Bake Off fame says he wanted to star in The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin because the Apple TV+ series gleefully turns a well-known British tale on its head.

Set to premiere Friday, the show is very loosely based on the real titular, 18th-century highwayman's life and adventures.


The series follows Turpin (Fielding) as he forms a band of quirky, lovable robbers played by Ellie White, Marc Wootton and Duayne Boachie, who then try to evade capture by a "thief-taker" or lawman played by Hugh Bonneville.

Dolly Wells plays the ahead-of-her-time, true-crime writer following their every move.

Turpin's story last unfolded on British screens in the 1979-82 drama, Dick Turpin, and pop star Adam Ant's 1980 music video, "Stand and Deliver."

"He's like Robin Hood for us. He's quite big in our sort of folklore," Fielding said in a recent Zoom interview.


"I know Americans don't generally know who he is, but no one had done Dick Turpin for quite a while, and it seemed ripe for the taking, especially for a comedy," he added.

"We couldn't quite believe that hadn't been done and, when we took it to Apple, they were very keen. So, it just all sort of evolved naturally."

Fielding, who also is an executive producer on the project along with Kenton Allen, said the cast, crew and filmmakers wanted the show to have an absurd tone reminiscent of the humor of the Monty Python comedy troupe and classic films such as The Princess Bride, Time Bandits and Blazing Saddles.

"We wanted to return to 'silly,'" Fielding said.

"Not that I don't love awkward comedy. The Office is amazing, but we sort of wanted to try and do a comedy that was a bit more silly and a bit more fun and a bit more [dependent on] visual gags, as well a verbal gags."

The show also has a sweetness and a relatability to it, too, that might surprise viewers.

"As a comedian, what you're always sort of playing is a version of yourself," Fielding said.

"You can play against type, but you generally have a clown, and my clown is quite inclusive and kind and creative. So, I tend to take those things through whatever shows I'm doing."


Fielding's Turpin is a highway robber, but also an enthusiastic leader and vegan pacifist.

"He's a fish out of water," Fielding said.

"You put him in amongst hardened criminals, and suddenly he's only got his ideas really to to get them through and his creativity and his enthusiasm and his sort of delusion, in a way. He's a dreamer, but that seemed to work really well."

Allen said the show doesn't rely on risqué story lines, language or behavior because those involved wanted to create entertainment people could enjoy with their kids.

"You could watch this and some jokes in there adults will get, but, also, when I watch with my 14 -year-old son, he just goes, 'This is great, can I watch the next one?'" Allen said.

"You've got to have heart," he added. "Noel brings all that heart innately, so you've got to write against that and for that."

Bonneville plays the straight man in the midst of the mayhem.

"He's a brilliant comedian, and obviously is very known for Downton Abbey, but he's also in films like Paddington. He's really funny," Allen said.

Fielding added, "We knew that that was going to be a great cat-and-mouse drama between us two."


Each member of the ensemble cast gets a moment to shine.

"There's so many other quite good cameos and good roles. People were quite into being in it, as well, because it was costume [comedy] and because they were riding horses, having guns, playing warlocks," Fielding said.

"We're trying to build this sort of magical world, sort of an alternative world where it's a little bit mystical, a little bit magical, a little bit surreal," he added. "If you approach any actor in the U.K. -- male or female -- and say, 'Would you like to wear thigh-high boots?' they're in, they're in."

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