Simply Ken: Sitcom about Sheffield 'pillock' reconnecting with his daughter debuts at city centre pub

“I’m 49, I’m active, I’m of average build… or at least I was until six months ago,” laments Ken, comparing himself to his ex-wife’s new boyfriend.

Thursday, 12th May 2022, 11:44 am

"You’re jealous, aren’t you?” says his daughter, Gwendolyn.

"Me? Jealous? Absolutely.”

So goes the opening exchange of ‘Simply Ken’, an upcoming sitcom filmed in Sheffield that made its debut at the Head of Steam last night.

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An up and coming sitcom filmed in Sheffield, 'Simply Ken', premiered to a handpicked crowd at the Head of Steam pub on May 11.

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Simply Ken: Up and coming Sheffield sitcom pilot episode to premiere to handpick...

Shot on a budget of just £1,800 and pulled together with the goodwill of dozens of friends and family, the pilot episode premiered at the city centre pub to a handpicked crowd of 300.

The modern sitcom is the story of successful businessman Ken Codd who suddenly loses his job, house and wife all on the same day.

The eventual series will document his strained relationships with his daughter, Gwendolyn, and his Laurel and Hardy-obsessed father, who only speaks in lines from the films.

The audience at the Head of Steam enjoy the pilot episode. In this opening clip, Ken goes bottom-first down the stairs at the Head of Steam as the narration laments his lot in life.

The show is the brainchild of writer and leading actor Andrew Craig Shepherd, who says the show has been knocking around his head for the better part of 14 years.

"It’s just absolutely overwhelming to be here today,” Andrew told The Star.

"I can’t put it into any kind of perspective and I couldn’t have done this without my producer Rob and so many others.

"It’s like watching your dream come true.”

Ken on a walk with his long-suffering daughter Gwyndolin. The first episode explores his strained relationship with her as he comes to grips with his place in life.

Sheffield itself made its mark as the backdrop for the pilot, including when Ken slips and goes bottom-first down the stairs at the Head of Steam in the opening narration. Later, Ken comically critiques the pub’s burger and chips on a trip with his daughter, to a pantomime wince from the audience.

The opening episode explores Ken’s strained relationship with his daughter, Gwendolyn, as he comes to grips with the new stage in his life. All the while, he casually referred to as ‘tactless,’ ‘tasteless’, ‘a miserable git’ and a ‘pillock’ by his nearest and dearest, who serve him with harsh truths about how to get on with his life.

Multiple conversations allude to unspoken incidents in Ken’s life that Andrew hopes will be explored in later episodes.

"We’re hoping it will get commissioned for a full series,” said Andrew following the screening.

Producer Robert Sadler with star and writer Andrew Craig Shepherd.

"I’m elated, it’s a feeling I won’t come down from for a few days.

"There was joke everyone laughed about how Ken lost his door key in a bucket of KFC when he was in college, that was the highlight of my evening.

"It feels like the start of something.”

Producer Rob Sadler, who has known Andrew since they were four, said: “It’s a testament to Andrew’s personality and his willingness that people have more or less all done this for free – we’ve shot in four or five locations, people have lent a hand, even the Head of Steam have donated the place tonight.

"I cannot really compare it to anything else – it’s rare to have a show that focuses on the relationship between a man and his daughter the way it does. It’s extremely funny and also touching."

The pilot starred Everly Pregnant Brothers singer Shaun Doane as narrator as well as comedy veterans Judy Buxton and Jeffrey Holland. It was directed by Cannes accredited creator Rhys Freeman.