Writers Keith Carter (left) and Stan McHale hard at work in their 'office', The Leaf Tea Rooms, Roscoe Lane, Liverpool _320
LIVERPOOL’S Keith Carter is on the verge of superstardom with his host of comic characters spearheaded by Scouse scally creation Nige.
After going down a storm at this year’s influential Edinburgh Fringe he has written a TV series based around Nige for fellow comic Steve Coogan’s production company Baby Cow which is to be broadcast on BBC3.
Radio 4 will also broadcast his new comedy series entitled The Shift, loosely based around life on the production line at Ford’s Halewood as experienced by his dad, Phil Carter.
Carter will also headline next year at Montreal, the world’s most auspicious comedy festival and has been invited to star in his own shows in Melbourne and New York.
“After Edinburgh I had all these offers from industry people who had not seen Nige before because they had not bothered travelling up to Liverpool,” said the 37-year-old Toxteth-born comic, who went down in legend as the man whose performance as Nige before watching Capital of Culture judges in 2003 swung the title the city’s way.
“Unfortunately most of them wanted to present stuff that was detrimental to Liverpool, things which I just wasn’t going to do. They just saw Nige as the stereotype of a stupid Scouser who trips over and robs things out of shops – but there’s a far more intelligent level to it than that.”
Beneath his spliff-smoking exterior and slack-eyed demeanour, Nige is a streetwise wisecracker expounding ways to change the world without ever actually getting around to doing something about it. Major topics of discussion include his nan’s cat Bin Laden, Pink Floyd and alien abduction.
Carter has other characters up his sleeve, however, which are already familiar to his Liverpool fans but wowed the unsuspecting Edinburgh audience. They include know-all cabbie Gerald Morris, electro-pop preener with Eric’s band Electric Moustache, now hairdresser Colin Kilkelly, and the un-PC has-been comedian Ronnie Binks.
The versatility of his writing and character led to Radio 4 producing The Shift, which started off as a half hour one-off but was thought of as so good it has been extended into a series by BBC bosses.
“I’ve had to edit some of the stuff beacuse I wouldn’t have been able to use half the stories my dad told me about,” said Carter, who has received full parental approval for the project, which follows a father and son relationship about the dad who despairs when his boy gives up his university studies to find out what real life is all about on the factory floor .
He added: “On the line at Ford’s they used to take bets on which of the new recruits could even last a day. There’s loads of tricks they’d play too. To break the boredom of each car going by on a 12-hour shift you’ve got to do something to pass the time.”
The icing on the cake on what should be a very busy 2008 is Liverpool’s Royal Court commissioning of Keith and his occasional writing partner Stanley McHale to write a new comedy as part of their grass roots policy of promoting local writers and actors.
Entitled The White Star, it’s based on the true story on ex-Liverpool sailors who hijacked a trawler after being made redundant in the late 1970s and sailing to Brazil.
“You only have to hear the first line and every Scouser will say well that will do for me!” said Carter.
It appears that from now on it’s not only Liverpudlians who will be thinking the same thing about the man behind Nige.