The Witchfinder: release date, cast interviews, trailer, guest stars, first looks and all about the historical comedy starring Daisy May Cooper and Tim Key

The Witchfinder sees Gideon Bannister (Tim Key) and his suspected witch (Daisy May Cooper) travel through East Anglia on horseback to get to the trial.
The Witchfinder sees Gideon Bannister (Tim Key) and his suspected witch (Daisy May Cooper) travel through East Anglia on horseback to get to the trial. (Image credit: BBC/Baby Cow)

The Witchfinder on BBC2 in early March takes us on a road trip through plague-ridden England in 1645 which is gripped by the Civil War and famine. But as the travelling companions are a pompous witchfinder and an incredibly opinionated suspect witch, played by Tim Key and This Country star Daisy May Cooper, their eventful journey is full of laughs and mishaps. It's a great look back at history too and shows how people acted and were brutally treated in those days. The Witchfinder is created by Neil and Rob Gibbons, the writers and directors of This Time With Alan Partridge

So here's all you need to know about The Witchfinder coming to BBC2...

The Witchfinder release date

The Witchfinder arrives on BBC2  on Tuesday March 8 at 10pm. All six episodes will then become available on BBCiPlayer after the first air date. We will update as soon as we hear the comedy's US and worldwide release date.

Is there a trailer for The Witchfinder?

Yes a trailer for The Witchfinder has been released by the BBC, which shows the strained journey through England in 1645. This is going to be funny! Isn't Thomasine Gooch just like This Country's Kerry Mucklowe transported back over 450 years? Take a peek below...

The Witchfinder plot

In The Witchfinder it's the year 1645 during the English Civil War when fear of witchcraft is rife throughout the country. Puritanical Christianity, deep-seated superstition and a willingness to scapegoat outsiders have created a tinderbox of suspicion in which few are safe. The career of 'witchfinding' has flourished, as self-appointed witch experts achieve hero status by investigating accusations of witchery and extracting confessions. A failing but careerist witchfinder Gideon Bannister (Tim Key) transports a suspected witch Thomasine Gooch (Daisy May Cooper) across 1640s East Anglia to a trial that could change his fortunes for ever. But his captive is the worst possible travel companion. She's an inquisitive, uncouth woman whose ability to prick his pomposity and ask uncomfortable questions turns a straightforward journey into a life-changing ordeal.

'The Witchfinder' is set during turbulent times.

The Witchfinder  is set during turbulent times. (Image credit: BBC)

The Witchfinder cast — Tim Key on playing Gideon Bannister

Tim Key, who plays the title role of the witchfinder Gideon Bannister, says: “I’m delighted to be working with the mercurially talented Gibbons brothers again, particularly on something set in 17th century England - which they seem to have a fairly loose grasp of - and I'm excited to do a road trip but on horses (I can’t ride a horse). I love the idea of Daisy May Cooper being a pissed-off witch anyway so the fact that I’m playing her antagonist is the icing on the cake. Can’t wait to saddle up.

"So my guy, Gideon Bannister, finds his witch, Thomasine Gooch, in her town and you know, starts with a kind of a trial, tries to try her, but then realises it’s more advantageous for him to take her to Chelmsford. It’s a classic. So the whole thing is kind of then a road movie, when it was described to me they said it was like Midnight Run, but in the 17th century, and with witches, and on horses, so I mean once all that’s come in it’s not that much like Midnight Run. But at its heart it’s the same sort of thing. It’s him with someone he needs to get somewhere for legal reasons. To his advantage. So yeah then it becomes sort of a road movie, but set over six episodes, where they find themselves in varying degrees of peril, or situations that they have to kind of worm their ways out of.

"One is a particularly bleak town where witchery is being clamped down upon, quite hard. I mean it’ll be interesting to see the final thing, I think you’ll see unfortunately, witches kind of swinging from boughs of trees, and things like that. There was one about a week or two in, where it is quite chilling, when you get a really good actor who’s playing a witch. We’re in a town called Dedham and I’m just sort of going round this town and then behind me it’s clear that there’s lots of dark things happening, and as I’m going to what I think is just a kind of a feast, a witch rushes past me, being dragged by other villagers, and she’s screaming, and she was a really good actor, and it was actually really chilling for a moment where you’re like, oh, there’s an element of the story which is obviously sort of mind blowing and too far away to be able to comprehend, but is really chilling, that they’re literally trying innocent people as witches. And yeah, that girl gets put on a fire. I mean I’m not saying she definitely gets burnt you’ll have to watch the thing, but there’s some real peril floating around. My guy is sometimes in danger but I think more to the point you realise it’s a very dangerous world he’s kind of inhabiting and he’s not helping really." 

Tim Key is an actor, writer, and performance poet who plays Sidekick Simon in the Alan Partridge franchise and has appeared in The Double, Inside Number 9 and Peep Show. More recently he has been seen in Pls Like, Greed and The End Of The F***ing World. He's won the Edinburgh Comedy Award, and been nominated three times for the Barry and once for the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality. Tim’s radio show Tim Key's Late Night Poetry Programme has run for years on BBC Radio 4, with a fifth series recording this Autumn. Tim also starred in Art At The Old Vic and continues to write and perform his own five star live shows. Most recently he made the critically acclaimed Megadate which he performed at The Old Vic before adapting it into a BAFTA-nominated BBC1 comedy short, Wonderdate.

Tim Key and Daisy May Cooper cast a spell

Tim Key and Daisy May Cooper cast a spell in The Witchfinder. (Image credit: BBC)

Tim Key (at back) in 'This Time With Alan Partridge'.

Tim Key (at back) in 'This Time With Alan Partridge'. (Image credit: Baby Cow)

'The Witchfinder' cast — Daisy May Cooper on playing suspected witch Thomasine Gooch

Daisy May Cooper, who plays suspected witch Thomasine Gooch, says: I cannot wait to be starring in The Witchfinder with the absolutely brilliant Tim Key. I've always wanted to be a witch, my mother says I've got the nose and chin hair for it. I dabbled a bit in witchcraft when I was in my teens and ended up accidentally inviting an incubus into my house. He was an absolute prick.

"Thomasine is sort of street smart but a bit thick. People think that she might be a witch because she’s not behaving how I suppose women should be behaving. So she gets taken by the witchfinder to court in Chelmsford. And it’s a bit like Planes, Trains and Automobiles but with a witch and a witchfinder!"

Daisy was born and brought up in Cirencester in the Cotswolds, along with her brother Charlie. She went on to attend RADA, studying for a BA in acting. While there her brother Charlie moved to London to stay with her. With very little money and missing home, the pair began to talk about the characters they had grown up with back in the Cotswolds. From this the comedy This Country and character of Kerry Mucklowe was born 

This Country became a huge hit on BBC3, written by and starring the siblings. This Country racked up numerous awards including the BAFTA for Female performance in a Comedy Programme for Daisy May. Daisy May has recently starred in Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield and written and performed in his HBO and Sky Comedy series Avenue 5.

'It's a bit like Planes, Trains and Autombiles but with a witch and witchfinder,' says Daisy.

Thomasine Gooch (Daisy May Cooper) is accused of witchcraft in this comedy. (Image credit: BBC)

This Country siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper as cousins Kerry and Curtain.

This Country siblings Daisy May and Charlie Cooper as cousins Kerry and Curtain. (Image credit: BBC)

The Witchfinder cast — guest stars and who else is starring

The Witchfinder has a number of guest stars rocking up throughout the series including Jessica Hynes (W1A), Daniel Rigby (Landscapers), Reece Shearsmith (Inside No. 9), Julian Barratt (The Mighty Boosh), Ricky Tomlinson (The Royle Family, Brookside), Rosie Cavaliero (The Enfield Haunting), Cariad Lloyd (Murder in Successville), Ellie White (Stath Lets Flats), Vincent Franklin (Gentleman Jack), Joplin Sibtain (White Gold), Allan Mustafa (People Just Do Nothing, The Curse), Seb Cardinal (Cardinal Burns) and Dan Skinner (The Angelos Epithemiou Show). Tuwaine Barrett (The Personal History of David Copperfield).

Jessica Hynes as Myers (with bad teeth) in 'The Witchfinder'.

Jessica Hynes as Myers in The Witchfinder. (Image credit: BBC)

Who the guest stars are playing in The Witchfinder

* Rosie Cavaliero in episode 3
Rosie pops up in the third episode as puritanical Eleanor Jennings, wife of a local East Anglian minister, who has a penchant for hanging witches without trial. When witchfinder Gideon and his captive suspect witch Thomasine arrive at Eleanor’s creepy village they’re invited to join in with a local feast, which involves burning a witch to death. Can Thomasine escape the lynch mob without them discovering her true identity, or will it be up to her captor to save her life?

* RIcky Tomlinson in episode 5
Ricky arrives in the fifth episode playing a town magistrate who is concerned about suspected witches in the area. He invites the Witchfinder General to the town to get rid of them and, pays him a whopping fifteen shillings, but soon discovers not all is as it seems.  

The Witchfinder — what else we know

The Witchfinder is written and directed by Neil and Rob Gibbons (This Time with Alan Partridge, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Mid Morning Matters, Veep). The producer is Dave Lambert and the executive producers are Christine Langan and Steve Coogan. The Witchfinder is a Baby Cow production for BBC2.

Christine Langan, CEO of Baby Cow Productions says: “Baby Cow is thrilled to be bringing the Gibbons brothers hysterical-heretical-historical epic The Witchfinder to BBC Two. Rob and Neil have put a truly modern twist on this macabre moment in time, as Daisy May Cooper’s modern-day everywoman gets dragged to trial by Tim Key’s inept, chauvinist, careerist witchfinder. In Daisy and Tim we have one of the best double-acts in British comedy and we can’t wait for you to see them fight their way across East-Anglia.” 

Kate Daughton, Head of Comedy Commissioning says: “In The Witchfinder, the Gibbons brothers have managed to create a timelessly compelling odd couple, forced together on a journey through one of the most baffling moments of English history. Tim Key and Daisy May Cooper are two of the UK’s funniest people and I can’t wait to see them tackle gender politics, male privilege and bees… on horseback.”

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Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.