+ Q&A with director Jim Archer, and writer-actors David Earl and Chris Hayward
A winning new ‘odd couple’ comedy based on a successful short film. Comedian David Earl (Derek, Extras, After Life) co-wrote and stars as the eccentric recluse Brian, who, trapped on a remote farm in northern Wales, tinkers meaninglessly with scrap machinery. One day, to combat loneliness, he makes something that actually works: Charles, a seven-foot tall walking and talking robot (Hayward) with his own awkward but loveable personality and a taste for cabbages. They quickly develop a father-son bond (put to the test during the bot’s ‘angry teen’ phase), and take on the village bullies – to comic and heart-warming effect. It’s the film we need now. Unmissable.
Mia Bays, Director of BFI Film Fund
Brian and Charles is about a lot of things. I wouldn’t want to dictate to anyone who watches it what interpretation they should have. Primarily, it’s about loneliness and the power of friendship and companionship. Charles is such a blank slate that you can put a lot of interpretations onto him and I think it works. When we made the short (which inspired the film), we got a lot of comments about how people related to their relationship to the characters in totally different ways, whether it is raising a child or having a parent with dementia. Therefore, whatever interpretation you have, you are CORRECT! But also, it is there just to make you laugh.
It’s such a bizarre premise and Charles is so ridiculous looking that my intention with this film was always to treat it as seriously as possible. Make it look like a real documentary, not a tried and tested Mockumentary but something more cinematic and atmospheric. Initially, I wanted to do that as I thought it would be funny to treat these characters completely earnestly. But additionally, in the story, there is a lot of heart and tragedy, and it deserved to be taken seriously. You need to believe in their relationship and that Charles is more than a mannequin’s head stuck onto a washing machine. Once we achieved this, then I think the comedy takes care of itself. I’m excited to see if audiences agree and can’t wait to share it with you all!
Jim Archer (Director)
Jim cut his teeth shooting comedy sketches with friends before writing and directing his debut short film Intervention. He has since gone on to win gold at the ‘Young Director Awards’ in Cannes, be awarded 3 Vimeo ‘Staff Picks’ (one a ‘best of the month’ Staff Pick) for his short films and earn plaudits for his Television work. He directed the second series of the hit BBC sitcom The Young Offenders and most recently wrapped on new Channel 4 series Big Boys.
David Earl (Brian)
David Earl is a British actor and comedian, best known for his stand-up comedy character Brian Gittins. Alongside Chris Hayward, he’s written and stars in Brian and Charles for Film4. He is a frequent collaborator of Ricky Gervais and has appeared in many of his projects, including comedy-drama Derek as the seedy role ‘Kev’ and more recently as ‘Brian’ in the award-winning series Afterlife for Netflix.
Other credits include Sick Note, Drunk History and Extras. Earl also works frequently with comic Joe Wilkinson. Together they co-wrote and starred in the sitcom Rovers, and the comedy series The Cockfields.
Chris Hayward (Charles)
Chris is an imaginative writer/performer with extensive experience of the UK comedy scene. He has written for shows including Cardinal Burns and Trollied, and landed development deals with Channel Four, Sky, BBC, ABC, Fox and CBS. As an actor, he has appeared in shows such as The It Crowd, King Gary, Pls Like, and Friday Night Dinner.
BRIAN AND CHARLES
Directed by: Jim Archer
©: Brian and Charles Film Ltd, Channel Four Television Corporation, The British Film Institute
Developed with the assistance of: Film4
Made with the support of: BFI’s Film Fund
Presented by: Focus Features
This production was made possible by the support of: HM Treasury & DCMS’ Film and TV Production Restart Scheme
International Sales: Bankside Films Ltd
Executive Producers: Damian Jones, Lauren Dark, Ollie Madden, Daniel Battsek, Mary Burke, Jim Reeve Halmi
Produced by: Rupert Majendie
Line Producer: John Palfrey-Smith
Production Manager: Tricia Cooklin
Production Accountant: Patrick Kelly
Supervising Location Manager: Julia Gurry
Location Manager: Geraint ‘Giz’ Jones
Post-production Supervisor: Jackie Vance
1st Assistant Director: Ina Lüders
Script Supervisor: Dionne Grant
Casting Director: Catherine Willis
Written by: David Earl, Chris Hayward
Director of Photography: Murren Tullet
Special Effects Supervisor: Perrt Costello
Editor: Jo Walker
Production Designer: Hannan Purdy Foggin
Art Director: Jo Scholar
Costume Designer: Gabriela Yiaxis
Hair and Make-up Designer: Red Miller
Colourist: Matthieu Toullet
Music by: Daniel Pemberton
Music Supervisor: David Fish
Production Sound Mixer: Calum Sample
Re-recording Mixer: Robert Farr
Supervising Sound Editor: David Crane
Stunt Co-ordinator: Kevin Smith
David Earl (Brian)
Chris Hayward (Charles)
Louise Brealey (Hazel)
Jaime Michie (Eddie)
Nina Sosanya (Pam)
Lynn Hunter (Winnie)
Lowri Izzard (Katrina)
Mari Izzard (Suki)
Cara Chase (June)
Sunil Patel (Phil)
Rishi Nair (Stephen Anderson)
Colin Bennett (Arthur)
Vivienne Soan (toffee apple woman)
David Edwards (Oliver)
Nicholas Asbury (Stu)
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Programme notes and credits compiled by the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
Questions/comments? Contact the Programme Notes team by email