Rob Brydon

Lock Stock's 'unlucky traffic warden' who has become a cult hero

Regular Tuesday night viewers of BBC2 may well have been captivated by a peculiar but compelling programme shortly before nine o'clock. Marion and Geoff is a 10 by 10-minute series featuring a Welsh cab driver who addresses his thoughts into a small camera on his dashboard. Not the latest in a long line of reality programmes, this is fine tragicomedy tucked into BBC2 primetime.

The man who plays Keith Barratt is not a familiar face. His sorrowful brown eyes and lugubrious features will haunt you, though, as will the details of his terrible life. Recently separated from wife Marion, who ran away with pharmaceutical salesman of the year Geoff, Keith pines for his two dysfunctional children, Rhys and Alun, while adjusting to life in a student house. Ferociously optimistic despite everything, he shares his medical, legal and emotional secrets with us.

Dreamt up and played by Rob Brydon, Keith is a work of comic genius who is as likely to have you in tears of sorrow as of laughter. Fans will be delighted to know there is now a chance to see more of Brydon's work in a new BBC2 six-part 'mocumentary' series Human Remains.

You may not have seen Brydon before, unless you remember the unfortunate traffic warden in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Inadvertently kidnapped by the likely lads, his character was beaten up when they realised his occupation.

The 35-year-old Welshman, a graduate of the Welsh College of Music and Drama, had been making a living from presenting, voiceovers and small parts in TV dramas and sitcoms. His performance in Lock Stock was noted by Empire magazine, which described him as 'an extremely unlucky traffic warden'. Using this tag, he put together character-based comedy films that attracted the BBC's attention.

Collaboration with Steve Coogan's production company Baby Cow followed and Marion and Geoff was born. Winning huge critical praise and cult status, it is being overlapped by Human Remains which is co-written and performed by Julia Davis, veteran of Big Train, Jam and People Like Us. In it Brydon and Davis each assume six very different characters who are married to each other. Thus we have a dysfunctional upper class couple, a pair of swingers who run a bed and breakfast in the Black Country, religious zealots who never find the vicar at home and more besides.

While happy with his current success, he is not yet planning his next move. 'It's just been so busy this year filming one thing after another. I need a rest till at least the New Year but I definitely want to work with Julia again. It beats saying: 'And in store next week we have...'

• Human Remains starts on Monday, BBC2

Five things you should know about Rob Brydon

1 His first break after drama school was presenting the early morning radio show on BBC Radio Wales.

2 One of his earliest comic creations was a character called Tony Casino, a failed Welsh club singer who thought he was Tom Jones.

3 He is married with three children and lives in London.

4 He co-starred with Gwen Taylor in the first series of a sitcom called Barbara.

5 For each 10 minutes of Marion and Geoff that were shown, four hours of film were shot.

Tina Ogle

The GuardianTramp

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