Comedy Store stars take on the Simpsons

Evening Standard 20/1/1999

By Simon De Burton

It was 20 years ago when life insurance salesman Peter Rosengard changed the face of British comedy. Now some of the stars whose careers were launched by his Comedy Store in Piccadilly are to repay him by appearing in a new TV cartoon series.

The voices of Clive Anderson and Alexei Sayle are among those featuring in a £250,000 pilot of a show called Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Anderson stars as the voice of the devil, Sayle plays Trevor, head of the Cloud family, and Arnold Brown is a non-technically minded St Peter who has trouble operating heaven’s electric Pearly Gates. The cartoon is based on the idea of heaven being taken over by hell and opens with the death of all the main characters.

The pilot is tipped by Rosengard to rival established cartoon favourites such as The Simpsons and South Park. “It is an all-British production and the first situation comedy based on the after-life,” he said. “As a result, we can include all the great characters in the history of the world.”

Rosengard changed the course of British comedy when he set up the Comedy Store after seeing Robin Williams perform at a similar venue in Los Angeles.

His initial adverts for acts attracted what he describes as “a motley bunch”. However, one applicant who stood out was barrister Clive Anderson, whose act set him on the road to stardom.

The steady stream of hopefuls who became household names after appearing at the Comedy Store include Rik Mayall, Ben Elton and Nigel Planer.

The new Planet 24 cartoon project, financed by Rosengard and a group of City colleagues, incorporates the latest animation techniques and 3D computer graphics.