In celebration of service technicians behind the wheels of classic white vans the world over, BBC is bringing the blue-collar set to a much bigger stage — with a new comedy series focusing on the life of a relucant handyman. The series, “White Van Man,” will depict the “incredible misadventures of two handymen, Ollie and his assistant Darren and the extraordinary people they meet along the way.”
British actor Will Mellor plays Ollie, an aspiring chef whose plans to open his own restaurant are nixed after his father’s heart attack forces Ollie to take over the family painting and decorating business. Ollie’s joined by Darren, a lazy sidekick who knows everyone in the community and who does little actual work. Will tells Rapid Talent, “Ollie’s confused why everybody else thinks it’s normal behaviour to be doing what they’re doing while there’s chaos going on around him. … He doesn’t understand why he’s clashing with everyone and that no-one sees that Darren is just a layabout they don’t get it!”
Will admits to never having driven a white van before production began, but he points out that the series skips easy ‘white van’ men platitudes. Says Will, “Obviously, we’ve tried to stay away from the stereotypes of white van men, as I think that would have been an obvious route to go the show is a bit deeper than that.”
Will was able to inject a bit of his personal history into Ollie’s character. His father was a handyman with a van, and Will says the series really captures the working-class pride and sense of community that he knew as a kid. Will tells Rapid Talent:
We used to go to a tip [garbage dump for SmartVan readers in the U.S.] when I was a kid. I’m quite proud of it. I come from a council estate background, working class and when we used to take stuff to the tip my dad would lower me in and we’d pick out some stuff so he could fix it and give it to people in the family. So I come from that sort of community where everyone looks out for each other none of us had anything so we all just made sure we looked out for each other. He’s an inspiration as to what a handyman should be. … So I think that’s what I love about this programme it’s got that warmth to it. The community are together and Ollie has got to try and fit into that community and try and let go of his dream of becoming a chef.
“White Van Man” premiers March 22 on BBC Three in the U.K. Here’s a preview clip on the BBC’s website.