Interview with Tom Basden – Here We Go

What can viewers expect from the first full series of Here We Go?

Across the series, there are a few different stories going on, there’s Paul’s attempt to find a new job and a new direction for himself, having given up on his archery dream, there is the course of Amy and Maya’s relationship, there’s Cherry and Robin getting back together, breaking up and then and then a sort of last ditch attempt to sort of salvage that.

Really the show focuses on the kind of everyday catastrophes that beset the Jessop’s life, some of which are very familiar, things like the family trying to eat more healthfully or trying to go on a day out together, and some of them are quite weird and wonderful, like the family accidentally kidnapping a dog or having to destroy a swimming pool, or going undercover with an estate agent, so there’s a real mixture of ordinary family life and quite ridiculous adventures. 

Where do we pick back up with the Jessops?

I’ve tried to move the Jessops on from the pilot but keep a lot of things in place. So Robin and Cherry have now got back together, having broken up in the pilot and they are now giving it another go at the start of the series and Amy and Maya are still together and Sam is still making videos. Rachel and Paul’s relationship is still in need of need of a revamp, I guess you’d say. So in some ways, there were a lot of things from the pilot that I felt like I wanted to spend more time with.

How was writing the series? Was it easier, because you had all the characters established, or was it more difficult taking the family out of the pandemic and into a more normal way of life?

I think once I found the stories I wanted to tell and the overall series arcs for the for the characters and their relationships, it was quite easy and really enjoyable. When I first came up with the idea for the show, it was never intended to be purely for the pandemic, even though this worked really well for the pilot in 2020. At the time I felt that there were a lot of stories and ideas that could come from the central setup – that the youngest son is documenting the life of his family who are desperately trying to find ways to have fun together despite the world trying to make life hard for them. And I was already thinking about loads of other situations, and places I’d like to put them. When I was making the pilot I felt like there was a lot left to be done with the Jessops, so I’m delighted that I had the chance to do that. 

Is there any part of yourself that you put into Robin? Maybe a stash of Goblins hidden somewhere?

Yeah, I did collect Warhammer figures, as a lad for a while and I think my parents have still got them somewhere. To be honest there’s bits of me in all the characters, there’s bits of Paul that I’ve said or recognise myself in, and there are definitely bits of Rachel in me when it comes to constantly trying to get my family out the door and trying to take charge but being quite inept at doing so. I think when you’re writing stuff you do tend to carve up bits of your personality and to divide them among your characters a little bit, so I’d say I have some similarities with Robin but luckily not that many!

What is it about Cherry that you think Robin is in love with?

Robin and Cherry’s relationship is based on some couples I know (that I obviously won’t name) where there is a certain kind of needy and vulnerable man who is attracted to a very strong woman. It can work the other way too of course. But I think you see that dynamic play out quite a lot and it’s is something that I was keen to explore because although it can be funny, it can also be really sweet when couples find their groove in those relationships and it can bring out the best in them.

Also, because Robin and Cherry aren’t living with the Jessops, their relationship can be a bit more high impact, where suddenly they’re into cycling or salsa, or they’ve got a new passion, or something else has happened in their relationship that’s quite exciting. So there’s never a dull moment for Robin and Cherry and I think that that’s probably what both of them find quite attractive about the relationship, even if it’s also going to be a source of stress. And I think Robin probably does need someone to sort him out a bit and of keep on straight narrow because when he’s not with Cherry, he is completely useless.

You have some great talent involved, when you wrote it did you have the casting in mind?

When I wrote the pilot I did have Katherine in mind, and with Jim and Alison, as soon as I saw them reading it I absolutely couldn’t imagine anyone else doing it, they were just so perfect for those roles. With Cherry, Tori’s audition was so brilliant and funny that I was really excited to write more dialogue for her and suddenly had a much better handle on the character. Having made the pilot I could pretty much write for the for the actors and for their voices when putting the series together, which is really helpful. Within the series, there are certain roles that I wrote with specific people in mind, such as Ray for Tim Key or Frank for Mark Williams.

And what was it like working with Alison Steadman?

Incredible! Alison is someone I’ve been watching in films and TV shows for ages, from Abigail’s Party, Nuts in May, Life is Sweet when I was growing up and then Gavin & Stacey more recently, and she is just such a joy to work with. Every take is just fantastic, and so funny and she’s always completely in control of where the comedy is coming from, so it was brilliant and a great experience working with her. Some of my favourite stuff in the in the series is from Alison’s character, like the episode where she gets a new boyfriend, and she’s just she’s so wonderful at playing a character like Sue, who is so upbeat and absurd, and sometimes little bit unaware, but then then can suddenly become quite emotional and can suddenly break your heart out of nowhere. She makes it look so easy.

How did you find working with the camera in such a different way?

I quite like being able to acknowledge the camera. I made the film David Brent Life on the Road with Ricky Gervais a few years ago and that was the first time that I got to do that, to play that game of acknowledging the camera and looking to the camera as if to say like “are you hearing this?” and I think it can add a lot of extra humour because you’re able to play with what the character is and isn’t aware of.

How do you find the creative process given you are the creator, writer and a cast member?

It’s quite a full on, when you’re writing and you’re also featuring in something. You’re also there all the time as you’re watching scenes that you’re not in, talking to the Director, talking to the actors. And I’m sure that they get a bit sick of me but it’s also really exciting seeing your ideas come to life, and then afterwards in the edit, helping to make decisions about how best to present them. There were times when it was it was wearing me out a bit, but I think that’s just sort of that’s what comes trying to make a comedy show.

Do you prefer being behind the camera or in front of it?

I would absolutely prefer to be in front of it if I had the choice, but I think something like this, where I had the opportunity to write scripts and then be in front of the camera is even better. Any setup where you can improvise and play around and try and find funny moments with other performers who have a similar sensibility is pretty much the most fun you can have.

Was there much improvisation on the set then?

There was certainly some. I was always encouraging the cast to do takes where we go a bit mad and throw stuff in and start all talking over each other because in some ways, the show is about the chaos of family life, so I wanted it to feel like we’re a real family and that it’s not all carefully scripted. Some of the bonkers stuff made it through to the finished episodes as well –  like the moment in episode 2 where Robin and Dean just start kind of chanting for no reason.

There are some real laugh-out-loud moment this series, what was your favourite scene to shoot?

I really liked all the stuff in the distillery in episode 6 with Ben Clifford, who played Campbell. He made me laugh so much. My favourite thing to shoot was probably the scenes in the Italian restaurant in episode 5, we were essentially eating pizza and tiramisu for 2 days.

What do you hope viewers will take away from this series?

I really hope that viewers see their own families in this show and recognise the mini triumphs and disasters that families inflict upon themselves when they spend time together and that they’ll be impressed by my salsa dancing.

Is it a coincidence that Jim’s character plays archery, but then his character in BBC’s Ghosts died by getting an arrow in his neck?

I wish I had done it on purpose, because a few people have picked up on that, but unfortunately it just is a coincidence.

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