Harry Hill to play Professor Branestawm in BBC children’s Christmas drama

Harry Hill is to take on the role of children’s literary character Professor Branestawm for a BBC drama.

The former TV Burp star, who made his big screen debut last year in Harry Hill The Movie, will star as the madcap boffin for an hour-long BBC1 film, alongside Miranda Richardson and Ben Miller.

The character was created in the 1930s by author Norman Hunter, with illustrations by W Heath Robinson, and he returned to writing about the Professor with a further series of books in the 1970s.

His crackpot inventions are continually going wrong, with housekeeper Mrs Flittersnoop (to be played by Vicki Pepperdine) and friend Colonel Dedshott (Simon Day) regularly having to save the day.

The family film – to be screened around the festive season – has been adapted from Hunter’s tales by Fast Show star Charlie Higson, who will also appear.

Harry, who trained as a doctor, said: “As a budding schoolboy scientist and inventor myself, I loved the Professor Branestawm books as a kid; I was fascinated by Heath Robinson’s wonderful illustrations too. It’s a thrill for me to be playing the prof in Charlie Higson’s brilliant TV adaptation. Best Christmas present ever.”

Charlie said: “I loved Norman Hunter’s Professor Branestawm books when I was a kid, and I loved reading them to my own kids, who found them as funny as I did. These were the books that inspired me to write comedy of my own, and I’ve always wanted to adapt them for the screen.”

Also in the cast are Peep Show star David Mitchell and Celebrity MasterChef winner Sophie Thompson.

Shane Allen, the BBC controller of comedy commissioning, said: “It’s great knockabout fun to bring the family together.”

Branestawm was previously brought to life by Thames TV in the late 1960s with Jack Woolgar taking the lead role. Hill has previously worked for Channel 4 and ITV.