Toast Of Tinseltown returned to television last night, on a new TV channel in the UK as well. BBC One debuted the first episode, dropped the whole series on the iPlayer, and also included the Toast Of London series previously shown on Channel 4 and streamed on All 4. The sitcom starring Matt Berry as the eponymous Toast, follows the life of a voiceover and actor living a failed life, through all sorts of surreal encounters. This series sees Toast switch not just channels but also continents, travelling to LA to star in "the Star Wars movie," though entirely filmed in the UK. Unlike Episodes, they don't even try to film a convincing America and lean into the weirdnesses and stereotypes. This also means given COVID restrictions, that the celebrity cameos this season are a) a lot more Americans and b) integrated into the plot through Zoom. Spoilers, I suppose, if you care about such things.
So Larry David appears in the recording booth on Toast's laptop, Bill Hader as producer Dwight Difference is zooming in to his own house from Alaska, and Paul Rudd playing himself trying to get into the party on the intercom.
I do not know how long I have waited to hear Larry David reply "Yes, I can hear you, Clem Fandango," as Sola Mirronek, frustrated author of a book on the conspiracy there that Jackie Onassis killed JFK, for whom Toast is doing the audiobook read.
As well as the above Zoom cameos, you can also look forward to Fred Armisen as Russ Nightlife (or is he?) and Rashida Jones as Billy Tarzana (or is she?) in most episodes, as well as a bevy of one-offs for What We Do In The Shadows, Year Of The Rabbit and Garth Merenghi castings – Susan Wokoma as production assistant Nina Armenian, Freddie Fox playing his own father Edward Fox…
…Kayvan Novak as anger management coach Des Wigwam, Matthew Holness as acting coach Richard Chickentoss and Natasia Demetriou as diva soap actress Carmen. As well as familiar faces Belinda Stewart-Wilson, Joseph May, Nigel Betts, Colin McFarlane, Sarah Mayhew, Isaura Barbé-Brown, Caroline Harker, Gina Bellman, Flaminia Cinque, Greg Canestari as well as the returning Tracy Ann Oberman, Harry Peacock, Doon Mackichan, Robert Bathurst, Tim Downie and the irreplaceable Shazad Latif.
Oh yes, and Homer Simpson. It really is a most peculiar televisual experience, and what might seem like restrictions to a show filming in the pandemic only add to the artificial, creepy weirdness that infuses this series even more so now. It really gets under the skin, in a way that David Lynch or David Cronenburg manage to, and that most of everything that manages to make it to the screen fails at. All while having Toast fall over a lot and hit Ray Purchase in the most "comedy basic" fashion. In a past world, I was a real-life Clem Fandango used to write and direct radio ads for the Soho agency Radioville on Wardour Street, then Dean Street, out of studios such as Spangle and, yes, had to deal with Matt Berry a fair few times, which was always an experience. I can confirm that Toast is pretty much Matt Berry through and through. And courtesy of Greta Thunberg, we even get a UK address for Toast.
Meard Street, which joins together Wardour St and Dean St. Was he stalking me? I'll take a look tomorrow… and hey, any chance we might get a Matt Berry appearance on Curb in return?