Stephen Merchant has revealed how he convinced Hollywood titan Christopher Walken to star in his new BBC series over an omelette.

Oscar-winner Walken, 78, appears in his first British television lead role in The Outlaws, a comedy-drama about community service in Bristol.

Merchant, who created the series and acts in it, revealed he flew to the US to pitch the project to his illustrious co-star.

The deal was completed after Walken was told Bristol is similar to San Francisco.

Speaking at the series premiere, Merchant told the PA news agency: “Chris Walken does not have a mobile phone or a computer so it’s quite hard to get in touch with him.

“So I think we dusted off an old fax machine at the BBC and we managed to fax him the script – I’m not even joking – and he read the script and he liked it.

“And he called, would I come to Connecticut, where he lives in America? So I flew all the way to Connecticut and I sat with him and he had a lot of questions, and I was sat with him for about four hours and he made me an omelette.

“It was very nice and we talked about the show, and he said to me ‘what’s Bristol like?’ and I said it was a bit like San Francisco. Because it’s exactly the same, with the bridge and the hilly-ness and everything. And he said ‘yes, I’m up for it’. And so he came over.”

Merchant, who co-created The Office alongside Ricky Gervais, said he was “terrified” The Deer Hunter star Walken would fall ill with coronavirus while filming in Bristol during the pandemic.

The Outlaws premiere
Gamba Cole also stars in The Outlaws (Ben Birchall/PA)

The 46-year-old said: “I didn’t want to be the guy that gave Christopher Walken Covid. So anytime anyone even looked like they were going to sneeze near him I sort of jumped in front of them, like a guy taking a bullet for the president.

“And miraculously he didn’t get Covid, and we filmed him and then he went back to America again. So it all seems like a dream.”

The Outlaws follows seven strangers from different walks of life forced together while completing community service.

The six-part BBC One series also stars Rhianne Barreto, Gamba Cole, Darren Boyd, Clare Perkins, Eleanor Tomlinson, Jessica Gunning and Charles Babalola.