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Hollywood big-hitter Jim Carrey makes the move to TV when he takes the lead in this new series, which kicks off with a double bill – just don’t expect the goofiness of his film hits Ace Ventura: Pet Detective or Dumb and Dumber.

This is a much darker affair, revolving around kind-hearted children’s entertainer Jeff Pickles (Jim), the host of a kids’ puppet show on television.

Jim Carrey with the cast of Kidding

Jim Carrey with the cast of Kidding

After 30 years on air, the show remains as popular as ever. But 12 months after his teenage son, Phil, was killed in a car accident, Jeff is struggling to keep things together.

‘He’s trying to hang on to who he was before, but he’s been hit by an emotional freight train,’ says Jim, 56. ‘He’s a ticking time bomb.’

When Jeff suggests devoting 
an episode of Puppet Time to grief, 
his producer Seb (Frank Langella) worries that the show will take a hit.

‘Everybody is concerned that 
Jeff is going to fall apart and take the show down with him,’
says Jim.

Kidding holds special meaning for Jim, as it comes three years after his ex-girlfriend Cathriona White’s suicide. The series is one of the first roles he has taken on since then.

‘Projects find you when you’re ready to express them,’ explains Jim. ‘Here, the life experience matched up.’

Ultimately, Jim believes that Kidding will bring a positive message to viewers – despite the heartache and pain.

‘In the middle of all the chaos, there is light and hope,’ he says. ‘Whatever you’re dealing with 
– even if it’s terrifying – it can always make you stronger if 
you look at it in the right way.’

The 10-part series reunites Jim with Michel Gondry, director of their classic 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

TV Times rating: ****