‘British Baking’s’ Noel Fielding Steals Into ‘Dick Turpin’

‘British Baking’s’ Noel Fielding Steals Into ‘Dick Turpin’ March 2, 2024

Fictional robbers pose in fanciful 18th-century garb.
(L-R) Ellie White, Noel Fielding, Marc Wootton and Duayne Boachie in “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

Best known in the U.S. as the kindly Goth co-host of The Great British Baking Show, Noel Fielding turns to comic larceny in his latest outing, Apple TV+’s The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin.

Currently streaming, the half-hour show is extremely loosely based on legends about an 18th-century highwayman, themselves extremely loosely based on the real Dick Turpin — a deer poacher, horse thief and killer.

Take a look:

Who Is Noel Fielding?

I’ve seen all the episodes of Dick Turpin, and it is indeed whimsical, fanciful and very silly. It’ll seem familiar to those who’ve either seen Fielding’s earlier U.K. work in The Mighty Boosh or The IT Crowd.

When he joined The Great British Baking Show (called The Great British Bake-Off in the U.K.) in 2017, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this tall, pale guy with the black hair, eyeliner and peculiar taste in clothing.

But, over time, I discovered that he’s very sweet, in a long-term relationship and the father of two daughters. He’s also quite funny, in his own distinctive way.

So, What Is Dick Turpin About?

The off-kilter, surrealistic humor of Dick Turpin should be familiar to any Baking fans who’ve seen Fielding in the skits that open the show — and to fans of such British shows as Blackadder and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

The pacifist, vegan son of a butcher (the veganism angle is played for humor, not politics), Turpin, who’s fond of purple boots and outlandish outfits (and has a rather anachronistic sewing machine), falls in with an unfortunate bunch of crooks called the Essex Gang.

He also runs afoul of Jonathan Wilde (Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame), the Thief Taker General.

Meanwhile, there’s a pamphlet writer (Dolly Wells), who’s pumping up the Turpin legend in her 18th-century version of a tabloid, and a fairly ineffectual, not-quite-official warlock named Craig (Asim Chaudhry).

Is Dick Turpin Controversial or Inappropriate?

While Fielding is more of a comic than a comic actor, he’s surrounded by top-notch British talent. Like most British humor, there’s cross-dressing and some slightly naughty double-entendres.

There is one scene where Fielding dresses as a combination matador and nun, but even that description should tell you that it’s just there for a laugh and not intended as a criticism of Catholicism (even though Catholics were greatly diminished and still persecuted at in England the time).

Parents will have to make their own determinations. I consider the show to be harmless for mature middle-schoolers and up, but it is rated TV-14 (parents strongly cautioned), so if you have any concerns, head off anyone before high school.

Talking to Noel Fielding

Last month, I attended the biannual TV Critics Association Press Tour, where AppleTV+ offered a press conference with Fielding and executive producer Kenton Allen. Afterward, I headed off for a one-on-two interview with the pair (that video is embedded below).

Here are a few highlights from the press conference.

On the appeal of the show to families:

NOEL FIELDING: I mean, I’ve got two children, but they’re a bit too young, they’re five and three. But I feel like maybe 12-year-olds? Ten-year-olds might watch it with their parents. I mean, that’s what we were kind of going for, yeah. It works on a few different levels, but it’d be really nice if the younger ones were into it.

On the real Dick Turpin:

NOEL FIELDING:  He’s an outlaw.

KENTON ALLEN: And the real Dick Turpin was a horrible, murdering lunatic, which I don’t think Noel could ever play.

NOEL FIELDING:  (Laughs) But a couple of people, a couple of famous writers of note in England, did kind of change Dick Turpin into a sort of dandy, like “The Scarlet of Pimpernel” or something. So, his image changed sort of throughout history and became this sort of dandy. But I think the truth is he was probably quite a nasty piece of work.

On casting Fielding:

KENTON ALLEN:  We were playing casting bingo, which we often do, going, who would play that fictional person really well. Somebody said Dick Turpin. My colleague, Victoria, said Noel Fielding, and we were off to the races. It was such a brilliant collision of the right — the wrong attitude with the wrong character, but this sort of magic happened when you add Noel’s brilliance and his surreality and his comic mind to —

NOEL FIELDING:  I only really get to play ghosts, vampires, goths, people from the 17th Century. No one real.  I’d be up for playing a real human being.

KENTON ALLEN:  You played Alice Cooper once.

NOEL FIELDING:  Alice Cooper.  Yeah, I usually play supernatural people. But Dick Turpin, yeah, also because people don’t know so much about the details, it was easier, and because it’s a comedy, it was easier to sort of reimagine him as a sort of a vegan, pacificist who’s very creative and into his fashion and more of a dandy, so.

KENTON ALLEN:  Doesn’t like violence.

NOEL FIELDING:  Doesn’t like violence.

KENTON ALLEN:  Won’t shoot a gun.

NOEL FIELDING:  Has a tiny gun and a tiny horse.

And here’s my chat with Fielding and Allen:

Image: (L-R) Ellie White, Noel Fielding, Marc Wootton and Duayne Boachie in “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin,” now streaming on Apple TV+.

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About Kate OHare'
Based in Los Angeles, Kate O'Hare is a veteran entertainment journalist, Social Media Content Manager for Family Theater Productions and a rookie screenwriter. You can read more about the author here.
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