The Witchfinder - Tim Key as Gideon Bannister and Daisy May Cooper as Thomasine Gooch

The Witchfinder – the cast speak ahead of the show’s premiere

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The show, starring Tim Key as The Witchfinder and Daisy May Cooper as his prisoner, begins tonight! 

BBC Two’s new comedy show begins this evening, Tuesday the 8th of March. Set in 1647, the story follows a witchfinder and his prisoner on a journey across England, encountering civil war, famine and plague. Brothers Neil and Rob Gibbons (This Time with Alan Partridge, Veep) write and direct.

First announced in 2019, the pandemic hit the show’s schedule but the “road-free road trip” is finally ready to begin.

Ahead of the show’s debut, the BBC have released interviews with its two stars:

Tim Key

As the titular Witchfinder, though not a very good one, Tim Key (This Time with Alan Partridge) describes how the journey begins:

“So my guy, Gideon Bannister, finds his witch – Thomasine Gooch – in her town and starts a trial. But then realises it’s more advantageous for him to take her to Chelmsford. It’s a classic. So the whole thing is then a road movie; when it was described to me they said it was like Midnight Run, but in the 17th century with witches and on horses. So I mean, once all that’s come in it’s not that much like Midnight Run.”

But at its heart it’s the same sort of thing. It’s him with someone he needs to get somewhere for legal reasons. To his advantage. So yeah then it becomes sort of a road movie, but set over six episodes, where they find themselves in varying degrees of peril, or situations that they have to worm their way out of.

He also talks about working with the impressive cast:

“Obviously, chiefly, there’s Daisy May Cooper, who is fantastic. We have Daniel Rigby, as one of my nemeses; Reece Shearsmith, Jessica Hynes – they’re all people I’ve watched from afar for years, they’re all brilliant, they’ve all got lots of awards. About three weeks in it was the Baftas and a few of them just went and grabbed another couple of awards just to edge further ahead of me. But yeah they’re brilliant. And a lot of the scenes are two-handers so you do get to have your moment where you’re just acting with these brilliant performers.”

Daisy May Cooper

Playing the accused, Daisy May Cooper (This Country) describes her character:

“Well, Thomasine is sort of street-smart but a bit thick, and because she’s so different and because she likes to drink, and she likes to arm wrestle and stuff in the tavern, and do all the stuff that I kind of do myself, people think that she might be a witch cause she’s not behaving how I suppose women should be behaving. So she gets taken by the witchfinder, who is played by Tim Key, to court in Chelmsford. And it’s a bit like Trains, Planes And Automobiles but with a witch and a witchfinder.”

She also talks about the battle of the sexes in the period:

“When it comes to sort of 1600 gender politics I don’t know what to say in fear of being cancelled. Probably say the wrong thing. Men are b*stards, that’s it, that’s it really. They’ve always been b*stards. There are some alright ones.”

Finally, she tells us why we should be watching The Witchfinder:

“Not only is there a superb cast, it’s brilliantly written and it’s really different. It’s the Gibbons brothers’ debut, they’ve been working on, you know, so many Partridge things for such a long time and now it’s their time to do their own thing – I think this project’s been going on for, like, seven years but my god you can see all those seven years of work into this. It’s something really really different. It’s funny.”

Guest stars

As mentioned above, the show also features Jessica Hynes, Daniel Rigby and Reece Shearsmith. For a rundown of the other guests, check out our article from February.

The Witchfinder is a Baby Cow production, produced by Joe Fraser with executive producers Dave Lambert, Rupert Majendie and Sarah Monteith.

It runs for six 30-minute episodes and begins on BBC Two at 10pm tonight, the 8th of March. The whole series will also appear on BBC iPlayer following the broadcast.

Will you be watching The Witchfinder?