By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/15/23 – There is a very famous quote that says, “England and America are two countries separated by a common language.”
Irish playwright and critic George Bernard Shaw gets the credit for having said it originally. English Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill also gets credit for saying it, and Shaw’s fellow Irishman, poet and wit Oscar Wilde, had his own version of the trope, too.
No matter its origin, all three would agree that how the two nations treat the English language makes for some interesting – and funny – conversations. And over the years we have seen a plethora of examples of this, many coming from British situation comedies that either have inspired an American version or have found audiences with their own quirky sense of humor (or humor, as our friends in the UK would spell it).
American super-hits “All in the Family” and “Three’s Company “found their inspirations in British TV. Now, audience in the U.S. are belly-laughing at another hit sitcom from the UK, “Everyone Else Burns,” which is enjoying widespread critical acceptance and winning audiences weekly on The CW.
With a combination of a brilliant premise, solid writing and a stellar ensemble cast, the show is building a solid following on the CW’s lineup of very funny half-hour offerings this season.
“”Everyone Else Burns” is set in Manchester and follows the trials and tribulations of the Lewis family, a clan convinced that Armageddon is nigh and who are trying to shield themselves from eternal hellfire and damnation by fanatically embracing their faith and their church.
David, the family patriarch portrayed brilliantly by veteran actor Simon Bird, stages nightly drills in which he simulates a Rapture event, timing the family’s response to ensure they get to their appointed spot for transport to heaven.
His long-suffering wife, Fiona, played by another British acting veteran, Kate O’Flynn, yearns for a life filled with more than unwavering devotion to the church.Their children – 17-year-old daughter Rachel (Amy James-Kelly) and young son Arron (Harry Connor) – also long for more, providing co-writers and creators Dillon Mapletoft and Oliver Taylor with a very fertile crop of storylines that have to date been keeping audiences in stitches.
The two, who are also the show’s executive producers, sat down with The Hollywood Times from their offices in London, and were joined by Molly Seymour, executive producer for JAX Media, which co-produces the show along with the Universal Studio Group, for an exclusive chat about their hit show.
Click below to see our exclusive interview:
Mapletoft and Taylor explained their vision for David was one that fits the mold of the traditional family patriarch, stubborn in his belief that he has the answers while in reality, he’s searching for is own salvation.
“David fits that sense of anachronism, that sense of being someone who obstinately refused to get on board with certain trends,” Mapletoft said, pointing to a storyline in Episode 2 in which he stubbornly rails against Rachel having a cell phone. “He took a certain pride in not having a mobile telephone and things like that.”
Taylor pointed to David’s fanatical devotion to his church as a theme the writing team wanted to flesh out.
“One of the things we wanted to talk about were things like people with different lenses on religion,” Taylor said. “We’ve got characters who take their faith so to heart that it gives them anxiety, such as Rachel, like Fiona, who have put a lot of restrictions on their lives.
David’s iron-fisted leadership of the Lewis clan is borne of a sense of his belief in he’s charting the right course for his family.
“David is one of those people who the threat of imminent hellfire, the idea that you have to be held to a high standard … he’s comfortable with that, very relaxed about it, and has probably an undue sense of confidence, and that everything is going to be alright,” Taylor said. “He probably could do with being taken down a peg. He probably should be more worried.”
The result is a family truly looking for truth among the trapping of their church,their religion, and social pressures that are tempting each member and revealing of their true selves.
“We hopefully see some people who are really grounded in the sense that they are really humble in their faith, and David is definitely not that,” Mapletoft said. “There’s lots about how he’s funneling his own pride into it and he’s obsessing over these tiny little rules without maybe seeing the big picture of what the church is all about.
“That was something we wanted to explore with him, that sense of a guy who feels like he had this pride wanting to step into this patriarchal role, and yet at the same time, the moment that’s questioned … he folds immediately, and we see who’s really wearing the trousers in that union.”
The casting for this show is as strong as the writing. Seymour said credit for putting together the ensemble goes to Aisha Bywaters, the noted British casting director who also assembled the ensemble for Universal/Peacock’s other British hit, “We Are Lady Parts.”
“Aisha was incredible at finding new faces like Amy and Harry, as well as hearing our desire to have the best of British comedy,” she said. “So we have a real range of comedy faces, dramatic faces who are amazing at comedy, and I think that combination means we have an incredible ensemble.”
Indeed, the primary cast serves as a solid foundation for a brilliant supporting cast that includes Ali Khan, Al Roberts, Morgana Robinson and Arsher Ali, which shines out around the Lewis family and placing “Everyone Else Burns” at the top of The CW’s “Everyone Must Watch” list of programs this season.
“Everyone Else Burns” screens on Thursday nights at 9:30, Eastern and Pacific time, on The CW.