Man To Man With Dean Learner (Channel 4, 2006)
One of my favourite comedy shows from the 2000s decade was Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. This was a parody of an 80s horror TV show that had supposedly not been shown at the time, it was so ridiculous and overacted, and I really enjoyed it, but there was only one series. Clearly everyone felt that they could get a little more out of the idea though, so a couple of years later there was a spin-off series.
Among the cast was Dean Learner (played by Richard Ayoade, who would go on to further success in The IT Crowd and The Crystal Maze). Learner was a club owner and entrepreneur, and now he had his own chat show, which was going to be very exciting. It would be introduced by a booming voiceover that announced Man To Man With Dean Learner was coming from Learner’s luxury penthouse apartment that overlooked the Thames, a very impressive location. There was only really one choice for the first guest.
Garth Marenghi was supposed to be a horror writer who had written hundreds of books, he described himself as a “dreamweaver”, insisted that each book would be more intense than the last, and went on to get his own TV show. Marenghi was played by Matthew Holness who had previously won awards for the stage version of this show. All of Learner’s guests throughout the series also happened to be good friends of his in the world of entertainment.
Every guest that featured was played by Holness, with others including Steve the boring racing driver, Glynn the science-fiction actor whose head would occasionally catch fire, and Merriman the folk musician who showed off his guitar skills. Randolph the actor who was planned for the final edition became unavailable at short notice, so Marenghi returned for another interview. Learner also had a female co-host who would be at the bar, but didn’t have much else to contribute really. Also making a couple of guest appearances was Matt Berry.
There was only one series of Man To Man With Dean Learner, and it was shown rather late at night on Channel 4. It was much less well received than Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace by critics though, but it was good to see them again, even though it was in a different format, and the comedy chat show had already been successfully done by characters including Alan Partridge and Mrs Merton.
Also, if Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace was supposed to be made in the 80s, was this made in the present day, because it would make them 20 years older. And, there was a clip from what was supposed to be this show’s predecessor called Deano’s After Dark which looked like it was made in the 70s which muddied the timeline even further. Holness and Ayoade also wrote the show, and there has been a DVD release, as part of a terrific bumper double-pack along with the original series.