WHAT Is Christoph Waltz Doing In This British Sketch Show?

A still of Christoph Waltz in The All New Alexei Sayle Show

Showbusiness is a strange place to try and make your home. One day you’re Hamlet, the next a talking pork chop, and there’s no sense in trying to work out how an actor jumps from one place to another; bizarre juxtaposition is an occupational hazard.

That said, it’s always a joy to discover than a current hot talent has some unusual anomalies deep in the hidden recesses of their resume. In that spirit, here’s an unexpected delight that came up this morning, from the twitter feed of the comedy writer Graham Linehan.

It seems that, in the mid ’90s, he and his then partner Arthur Mathews, had written a sketch show for the comedian Alexei Sayle, with the refreshing title The All New Alexei Sayle Show. It would take a while to fully explain who Alexei Sayle is if you don’t know, but to give context to the cultural impact of the show itself, The All New Alexei Sayle Show, while not unpopular, is largely unremembered even on the British side of that big sea thing between here and there.

So, it came as much of a shock to Graham as anyone else, to discover that one of the actors in his sketch The League of Hirsute Gentlemen is actually Christoph Waltz: movie star, Golden Globe winner (for his part in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained), and current Oscar nominee.

Of course, he was still Christoph Waltz then, but he wasn’t yet Christoph Waltz, if you know what I mean.

Graham confirmed he hadn’t made the connection himself, tweeting: “Honestly had no idea about that until about five minutes ago. Amazing.

By way of context, here’s an extract from Christoph’s IMDB profile immediately before and after this appearance, to show you the sort of thing he was involved with at the time. If anything, it makes the appearance of an Austrian actor, clearly used to playing Germans or Russians, in this very British comedy skit, all the more baffling:

• 1994 Jacob (TV movie) - Morash

• 1995 Ein Anfang von etwas - Herbert

• 1995 Die Staatsanwältin (TV series) - Andreas Döpke

• 1995 Prinz zu entsorgen (TV movie) - Roman

• 1995 Man(n) sucht Frau (TV movie) - Christoph

• 1995 The All New Alexei Sayle Show (TV series) - Weak Moustache

• 1996 Rex: A Cop’s Best Friend (TV series) – Der Puppenmörder (1996) – Martin Wolf

• 1996 Rosa Roth (TV series) – Nirgendwohin (1996) – Wietze

• 1996 Du bist nicht allein – Die Roy Black Story (TV movie) – Roy Black

• 1996 Der Tourist (TV movie) – Stephan Görner

• 1996 Catherine the Great (TV movie) – Mirovich

Next week: Anthony Hopkins – the weatherman years…

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

See more posts by Fraser McAlpine