Andy Harries

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At the 1991 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Harries personally bought the television rights to An Evening with Gary Lineker, a comedy play written by Arthur Smith and Chris England based around a group of England fans at the 1990 FIFA World Cup. Smith bet Harries £100 that he would not be able to get the adaptation on television before the next World Cup. Harries tried selling Smith and England's screenplay to the BBC, Channel 4, LWT, Yorkshire Television and Central Independent Television to no avail. The BBC offered to produce it as a studio play but Harries wanted a full-length film to distinguish it from the original play, which was by then playing at London's West End. He was reluctant to offer the script to Granada because of his previous experience with the company. However, in 1992 he was accepted the position of controller of comedy at Granada and An Evening with Gary Lineker was made. Harries was disappointed that pressure from Granada's management had forced him to replace so many of the original stage cast; England was replaced by Paul Merton, leaving Caroline Quentin as the only original actor. The Edinburgh Fringe played an important role in Harries' early commissions at Granada; he was not fond of traditional styles of comedy and was always looking for alternative comedians. These included Caroline Aherne, Steve Coogan and John Thomson (though Coogan "got away" from him after the BBC offered to produce his Alan Partridge shows). After the failure of Bhundu Beat, Harries commissioned Peter Morgan to write "Mickey Love" in 1993, one of a series of short comedy films for the Rik Mayall series Rik Mayall Presents.