Capital is a six-part podcast I've made with Adam Drake, Charlotte Ritchie, Ben Rowse, Liam Williams and Matilda Wnek.
When a referendum on capital punishment comes back 50.9% in favour of hanging, a group of junior civil servants are forced to bring back the death penalty.
Capital is designed by committee. We wrote beat sheets, breaking down scenes into plot points and punchlines. The performers improvised their way through each beat sheet. Then I cut the whole thing together on Garageband.
We were lucky enough to have Harry Enfield and Jon Snow guest star in episode one.
Capital also features Flora Anderson, Celeste Dring, David Elms, Emily Lloyd-Saini, Alastair Roberts, Rosa Robson, Cam Spence and Katy Wix.
Capital was in the Sunday Times' Top 50 Podcasts of 2017, and the Independent's Top 20 Podcasts of 2017.
Capital is billed as “an improvised comedy about executing an execution” and it is sharp satire in the vein of The Thick of It.
Imagining a government that promised the country a referendum as “a cynical attempt to poach supporters from Ukip and other rightwing organisations” isn’t too much of a leap and Harry Enfield is perfect as the clueless new minister for capital punishment. Meanwhile, the civil servants who have been tasked with getting the hanging show on the road are beautifully irritating: young, inexperienced and spouting management-speak.
Fresh Meat and Call the Midwife’s Charlotte Ritchie plays the kind of team leader who thinks a good ice-breaker is asking her staff what they would choose for their last meal on death row. The answers involve a lot of faffing around and a debate about whether there’s a vegan option. The civil servants’ meetings are relentlessly funny. It’s not long before hardcore nooser Liam (played by Liam Williams), who believes “animal fiddlers, horse botherers, bankers, fake vicars” should be hung, clashes with Matilda, a no campaigner disgusted at his attitude.
There is realism in their madness as they assign hanging as the hard option and the lethal injection as the soft approach. (The guillotine is dismissed as “too French”.) “Crucifixion has a bad track record of people coming back from it, so we’ll take that off the table,” notes Liam.
Of course, there are many Brexit parallels. A narrow referendum result on such a contentious issue doesn’t sound far-fetched, until it’s revealed that Ant and Dec are no longer working together because one voted “noose” and the other “noo”.
As the six episodes go on, the improvisation becomes bolder until it reaches matter-of-fact discussions about playing piñata with a dead body. Plans for entertainment for the noose-loving audience at the first public hanging is in full swing and “a lie-down snowflake crying slumber party avocado festival” is suggested for the naysayers. Disturbingly funny, and not just because it’s not a million miles from reality."