Timothy Spall to star in ‘unique’ BBC comedy-drama Death Valley

Actor Timothy Spall is to star in a new comedy-drama series called Death Valley, the BBC has announced.

It comes after the British star won the leading actor gong at the annual Bafta TV Awards on Sunday night for his role in BBC series The Sixth Commandment playing the teacher who was murdered by his former pupil and lodger Ben Field.

Spall, who is known for playing Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter film series and starring in 2014 film Mr Turner, described the forthcoming drama as “unique”.

BAFTA TV Awards 2024 – London
Timothy Spall in the press room after winning the leading actor award for The Sixth Commandment at the Bafta TV Awards 2024 (Ian West/PA)

Set in Wales, Death Valley will follow the unlikely crime-solving partnership between John Chapel, played by Spall, 67, and Welsh detective sergeant Janie Mallowan, played by Defending The Guilty star Gwyneth Keyworth.

John, a retired actor and star of hit fictional detective TV show Caesar, is united with Janie through the murder of his neighbour.

In each of the six 45-minute episodes, the Welsh landscape will provide a backdrop to the duo’s murder investigations.

Spall said: “I’m really looking forward to teaming up with the brilliant Gwyneth Keyworth and the fantastically talented team of creatives and technicians on this new and unique comedy drama.

“I’m relishing the prospect of getting stuck in as we embark on creating this truly oddball detective duo who develop their unusual combined eccentric skills to hilarious and surprisingly successful effect in beautiful rural Wales and its gorgeous towns and villages.”

Jon Petrie, director of comedy at the BBC, said: “This series has all the hallmarks of a BBC comedy classic; it’s the perfect comedy drama caper which never forgets the funny. We feel thoroughly spoiled to have such a wonderful cast on board.”

WhatsOnStage Awards – London
Gwyneth Keyworth with the award for best supporting performer in a play during the WhatsOnStage Awards at the Prince Of Wales Theatre in 2023 (Ian West/PA)

Josh Cole, head of comedy at BBC Studios Comedy Productions, said: “With a wonderful cast and Paul’s extraordinary scripts, Death Valley is a brilliantly witty and idiosyncratic take on the murder mystery.”

Nick Andrews, head of commissioning for BBC Wales, said: “Comedy in Wales is in terrific shape! The very best comedians, the very best writers are playing their part in establishing Wales as a very funny place.

“We always knew this to be true and now the rest of the UK do too. I know audiences will fall in love with these two brilliant characters as they strike up an unlikely but incredibly endearing friendship.”

The series has been commissioned by BBC Comedy and BBC Wales, and it will air on BBC Two, BBC One Wales and BBC iPlayer.