(The following information is extracted from, a website which is sadly no longer online.)


Writers: Eddie Izzard & Nick Whitby

Director: Geoff Posner

Channel 4, 1st January 1997

Cows marked Eddies debut as a sit-com creator and writer (co-written with Nick Whitby). The long-awaited and much-hyped hour-long pilot was broadcast on Channel 4 on 1st January 1997, and focused on the Johnsons, a family of cows.

Cows begins with a news broadcast neatly providing the background the viewer needs to understand the present; a long campaign of emancipation by “bovine suffragettes” (Evening Standard) results in the realisation that cows have similar intelligence levels to man. By 1997, cows co-exist with humans, adopting our habits but at the same time, keeping some of their own (eating silage, mooing and licking out their nostrils).

The Johnsons (Pam Ferris, James Fleet, Nicola Walter, Jonathan Cake, Kevin Eldon and Patrick Barlow as a mad great-aunt – all unrecognisable in their cow masks) are faced with a dilemma – how to pay for the wedding of their eldest son Rex to his human girlfriend, Pinkie (Sally Phillips).

In general, Cows was not well-received and the series was not commissioned.

“The Johnsons hoofed their way to a castle, a party conference and a wedding, mooing some good lines along the way.” Daily Telegraph

“The show was suffused too with Izzard’s child-like gentleness….Jokes as good as these are not frequent visitors to sitcom-land. A lighter touch on the make-up and Cows might yet turn up a triumph….” Jim White, Evening Standard

“Udderly brilliant” Sky Magazine

“It is a bold concept for a sitcom and even bolder for the writers….Despite vulgarities which seem inseparable from television comedy these days, the joke is adroitly sustained….” Peter Waymark, The Times

The pilot was not picked up by Channel 4, but you can watch the hour long pilot episode on YouTube in the usual 10 minute segments in various places. You can try clicking the following links :

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Nicola in Cows

Nicola spent two weeks filming this pilot episode. It would have been just before or just after she filmed her part in Moll Flanders. It is just as well that Nicola has a distinctive voice, otherwise, you wouldn’t know that it was her under that cow mask. But overall, its very funny in parts and possibly a little early for its time. Maybe with today’s advances in special effects and make-up, they could do something about that cow mask and make the show more viewer friendly.

Six degrees

James Fleet has appeared in several projects in which Nicola also was cast. James was a main character in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Nicola was in the first wedding, as was James, although they did not interact with each other. James was also in Milner (1994), Moll Flanders (1996) and A Dance to the Music of Time (1997) but he appeared in different segments from the ones in which Nicola made an appearance. James was a cast member in the play, Cloud Nine (2007) and was on stage with Nicola during parts of the play.

Jonathan Cake also appeared in A Dance to the Music of Time (1997) but he did not have any scenes with Nicola.

Kevin Eldon was a series regular on the TV talk show, This Morning with Richard and Not Judy (1999). Nicola made a cameo appearance in one episode on that show, as herself as a member of the audience.

Eddie Izzard, the writer of this series, also appeared in Aristophanes [TV] but it is unclear as to whether he had any scenes with Nicola in that TV movie.