Armando Iannucci: 'We're watching Cats five mins a night – to prolong the agony'

Kurosawa’s ‘uplifting’ film about poverty and Chernobyl are on the viewing roster of the Avenue 5 creator, who calls on the UK government to prioritise the arts sector

I’m at home with my wife, children and dogs. We’ve drifted into a communal understanding of watching something chewy, like Chernobyl, then Gogglebox. It ends with us doing impressions in very bad taste of Craig Cash: “In Kiev, there’s been an explosion in reactor four …” We’ve reached the gallows humour that I expect every family has reached as we hit week 13 of lockdown.

For some reason, Cats turned up unannounced on our Sky box. I’ve never been a party to that school of: it’s so bad, it’s good. But everything in Cats is so bad, from the scripts to the effects, we’ve had to restrict ourselves to five minutes a night, just to prolong the exquisite agony.

Paolo Stoppa in Miracle in Milan.
Paolo Stoppa in Miracle in Milan. Photograph: CineText/Sportsphoto/ Allstar

Mubi throws up some really interesting films, most recently Akira Kurosawa’s Ran and Vittorio de Sica’s Miracle in Milan, which is funny, fantastical and bonkers. It looks at poverty and deprivation, yet it has angels and miracles. I’d heartedly recommend it as it’s a really uplifting film.

I’ve been writing the next season of Avenue 5 by Zoom and email. We were supposed to be shooting by now. Perhaps we could film it in space. That would certainly help with social distancing, but there might be a cost issue. It has dawned that Avenue 5 is fundamentally about thousands of people trapped in an enclosed space with no proper leadership. The absurdity of the denial by some that this is even happening has been a strange source of inspiration.

The creative industry is in a crisis. Film, TV, theatre, music, fashion, design and arts contribute more to the British economy than oil, gas and cars. Yet the government still hasn’t prioritised it, like aviation or retail. We’ll still need a world to enjoy out of lockdown. There won’t be if theatres, cinemas and music venues are struggling. Maybe 100 years from now, we’ll look back on this and laugh. They should cryogenically preserve comedy writers now so that we can wake them up in 100 years and they can write the defining satire of these times.

• Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield is out on DVD and digital platforms.


As told to Rich Pelley

The GuardianTramp

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