Filming has started on the upcoming Channel 4 comedy, The Change described as “Shirley Valentine meets Deliverance. With pigs”.
This new six-part comedy-drama series is created, written by, and will star the multi award-winning stand-up comedian, actor, and writer Bridget Christie. The series is being produced for Channel 4 by Expectation.
Linda (played by Christie) is a 50-year-old working class married mother of two, who is having an existential crisis. Convinced she’s got early onset dementia after forgetting what a shoe is called, Linda’s GP informs her it is, in fact, the menopause. Feeling invigorated and empowered by this information,
Linda decides to claw back some of the time she’s spent doing ‘invisible work’ over the years (not all 3.5 million minutes, just 131,500 of them) and do something for herself… for a change.
Dusting off her old Triumph motorbike, she heads to the Forest of Dean in an attempt to reconnect with the person that she used to be – potentially by way of finding the time capsule that she hid up a tree when she was 10.
She decides to not be entirely truthful about who she is, however, as soon as she arrives in the forest, with its community of eccentrics, artists, eel fisherwomen, musicians, misfits and the odd bigot, Linda stumbles upon an altogether broader sense of purpose.
With her beloved forest endangered by a new development, and surprising new friendships blossoming within the town, Linda finds herself unexpectedly welcomed into this world. But will the white lies she’s told come back to haunt her?
The first people Linda meets in the Forest of Dean are the eccentric Eel Sisters, Bernadette is played by Ashley McGuire (This Is Going To Hurt) and Monica Dolan (A Very English Scandal) plays Carmel – they’re a straight-talking-no-nonsense duo.
Also in the neighbourhood is Joy (played by Tanya Moodie, Motherland), a DJ at the local radio station. Artist, music lover, folklore specialist, outspoken feminist and something of kindred spirit, Joy helps Linda make sense of the world she’s found herself in.
Liza Tarbuck (Upstart Crow) plays Siobhain, Linda’s older, domineering sister who takes every opportunity to boss and belittle Linda.
Jim Howick (Ghosts) plays The Verderer, an angry, intolerant and outspoken man; also a DJ at the Forest FM café. Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones) plays the Pig Man, a reclusive figure who lives a solitary life in the forest. Self-sufficient with only the wild boar for company, Pig Man gave up a job in the city after a devastating life event and now lives a frugal life off-grid.
Whilst in the forest, Linda also crosses paths with Tony (played by Paul Whitehouse, The Fast Show). Tony is a regular in the local pub. A man of simple pleasures, born and bred in the forest, he’s rarely challenged on his outdated, often problematic points of view but when he is, it tends to not take much to get him on side.
Linda’s husband of 25 years; Steve is played by Omid Djalili (His Dark Materials). He loves Linda but rarely lifts a finger with the household chores and has taken her for granted, so when she leaves him home alone with the kids, he’s finally forced to work out how to use the washing machine.
Other cast in the series include Richard Durden (Back to Life) playing Dr Spence, a kindly but old-fashioned Doctor who inadvertently triggers Linda’s journey of self-discovery and Amanda Lawrence (Chloe) as Janet Trustgrove a local nervy town councillor.
Finally, there’s Sonny Charlton (Maxxx) who plays Ryan, The Verderer’s sister’s non-binary child who is counting down to the day when they can escape the town.
The Change was commissioned for Channel 4 by Fiona McDermott, former Head of Comedy and Laura Riseam, Commissioning Editor for Comedy.