It’s been ten years now since author, visionary, and dreamweaver Garth Marenghi’s legendary horror TV show, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, was rescued from a vault in Peru and broadcast to a largely unappreciative audience.
Or, you know, in the reality we actually inhabit, it’s been ten years since a group of comedians donned 80s costumes and pretended to be aging filmmakers commenting on their own ‘lost’ series. Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was a perfect send-up of both trashy low-budget horror and science fiction productions and pompous creators, as a bewigged Matthew Holness straight-facedly explained the unique genius of his horror writing alter ego even as his greatest creation, Dr Rick Dagless M.D., mugged away in the background.
It was a ludicrously high concept show, incorporating both faux documentary footage and a fake 80s TV show, and though it ran for only six episodes, it garnered a devoted cult following. It’s one of those shows that, once seen, you never forget – and never stop quoting, even if no-one else knows what you’re on about.
Although it’s horrifying that it’s really been ten years since Darkplace was on telly, it seems like a good time to take a look at what the cast have been up to since…
Matthew Holness (Garth Marenghi)
Matthew Holness was the star and co-creator of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, but of the four principals, he’s probably the one whose career you’re least familiar with. After Darkplace, he appeared in the spin-off series Man To Man With Dean Learner, also co-created with Richard Ayoade. It ran for six episodes back in 2006.
After that, Holness had a recurring role in Free Agents, alongside Antony Head and Stephen Mangan, and also in Ricky Gervais’s Life’s Too Short. He had a minor role in Cemetery Junction, and directed an episode of Playhouse Presents in 2012.
His current project, The Reprisalizer, is similar in concept to Darkplace, except instead of sending up pulp horror authors, it targets 70s crime writing. The idea has been floating around for a while – you can watch the initial 17 minute short film, A Gun For George – and find out more about the development of the project at the Reprisalizer website.
Richard Ayoade (Dean Learner)
As well as playing dual roles in Darkplace, Ayoade was the show’s co-creator and director. Afterwards, he had a recurring role in Nathan Barley, then collaborated with Matthew Holness again on Man To Man With Dean Learner. Lots more comedy roles followed, including appearances in The Mighty Boosh and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. He was a team captain on comedy panel show Was It Something I Said?, and he also played Moss in Graham Linehan’s The IT Crowd, which is probably the thing that gets him recognised most often.
Ayoade’s also done a lot of work behind the camera over the years. After directing the Arctic Monkeys documentary, he made his feature film debut with Film4’s Submarine, a quiet coming-of-age story based on Joe Dunthorne’s novel of the same title.
His most recent projects include The Double, an adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s novel that’s out in UK cinemas this week, and a voice acting role in The Boxtrolls, due out later this year. Read our recent interview with Ayoade, in which he sadly confirms there are no plans for a Darkplace film, here.
Alice Lowe (Madeleine Wool)
Post-Darkplace, Alice Lowe has appeared in just about every British comedy show it’s worth appearing in. She had a minor role in Black Books, appeared in a couple of episodes of Little Britain, and popped up in Snuff Box and Man To Man With Dean Learner. She was in Hot Fuzz, and briefly in Kill List. She was part of the sketch show Beehive, she played various roles in a season of Horrible Histories, and even turned up in an episode of Sherlock. (Which isn’t a comedy, but shh.)
Her most high profile work recently, though, was in Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers. Actually, it’s not really fair to call it Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, is it? As well as starring in the movie, Lowe co-wrote the script with her co-star, Steve Oram, based on characters they’d developed by talking about their respective families. It’s an amazingly dark comedy that, if you haven’t seen it, definitely deserves seeking out.
Her most recent projects include a role in Electricity with Agyness Deyn, and in British comedy AmStarDam.
Matt Berry (Todd Rivers)
Last but not least, it’s the man with one of the most recognisable voices on television. He’s done voiceovers for all sorts of adverts, including Muller Corner yogurts, Volvic water, and the Natural Confectionary Company’s sweets. He was also the voice of Absolute Radio for a while, with his own podcast.
As far as projects that involve bits of him other than his voice go, Berry’s been pretty busy since Darkplace. He had a recurring role in The Mighty Boosh, co-starred in Snuff Box with Rich Fulcher, and turned up on Man To Man With Dean Learner. He also had a recurring role in The IT Crowd, and was the star of comedy show Toast Of London. He even popped up Snow White And The Huntsman. Most recently, he had a role in House Of Fools, and is also in British comedy thriller Hinterland.
Interestingly – particularly for Darkplace fans who enjoyed his rendition of One Track Lover in the episode The Creeping Moss From The Shores Of Shuggoth – Berry is about to embark on a UK tour with his band, Matt Berry And The Maypoles. He’s released four albums to date; the most recent, Kill The Wolf, came out last July.
And the rest
Though the cast of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was pretty small, there were a couple of other faces that cropped up more than once, including Kim Noble, whose controversial show at the Edinburgh Festival, Kim Noble Will Die, showcased his struggles with mental illness and despair as much as it did his comic timing; Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, best known for their own show The Mighty Boosh; and Graham Linehan, the writer of The IT Crowd and Count Arthur Strong.
More on Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace tomorrow.
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