Christmas Comedy Countdown: Professor Branestawm | 3

In his acting debut with Professor Branestawm, Harry Hill leads an all-star cast in two specials that were adapted from Norman Hunter's novels and written by The Fast Show legend Charlie Higson.

The Christmas special stars Harry Hill as the scatterbrained inventor, alongside Simon Day as his best friend Colonel Deadshot, and Vicki Pepperdine as his housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop.

Branestawm is an unrulely inventor who constantly runs into trouble at the hands of fastidious parish councillor Harold Haggerstone (David Mitchell) as he attempts to stop the Professor before he 'destroys the entire town' with his dangerous inventions!

However, the characters Haggerstone teams up with to help with this endeavour don't seem all that trustworthy, such as Ben Miller's Mr Bullimore and Steve Pemberton's Professor Algebrain from an unspecified European country.

To help save the day, there is Connie, a school child with whom Professor Branestawm strikes up an unlikely friendship after she takes her mother's clock to him to be repaired.

Norman Hunter's books were written roughly 80 years ago, and were short, almost Winnie-the-Pooh type stories, but here they are lovingly re-imagined as hour-long specials.

This is a side to Harry Hill we've never seen before, but he makes a fantastic nutty professor, and doesn't overplay it either! Simon Day really shines as Colonel Deadshot too, and David Mitchell makes a superb pernickety councillor, as you might imagine, making him an excellent folly for the Professor ('Not to be trusted, doesn't like toast.').

It's just such a joy to see so many comedy legends in the same show. I particularly love Steve Pemberton's performance as Professor Algebrain, and his lethal inventions such as the bath/guillotine and his fantastic motorised wheelie/bike thing. Actually, here's a picture that I took of the stuntman who drove it when I went to have a look at the filming in Stroud. He very kindly posed for me!

Did you know that the filming of both of these specials had last-minute casting changes, due to the ill health of the original actors? Brian Blessed was going to play the mayor before Charlie Higson stepped in, and Matt Berry stepped into the role of Professor Awfulshirt when Bob Mortimer had emergency heart surgery.

These specials are just so Christmassy, despite the fact that the content of them has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. They're warm, funny and charming and are good old-fashioned family entertainment. UK Gold loves to repeat them at Christmas time, why not make these Professor Branestawm specials a part of your Christmas?

Written by Rhianna Evans

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