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THE PRESTIGIOUS DAVE’S EDINBURGH COMEDY AWARDS
ARE BACK AND CELEBRATING 40 YEARS OF COMEDY GENIUS

DAVE’S EDINBURGH COMEDY AWARDS will return at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. After a two-year worldwide hiatus, the renowned Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards are back celebrating 40 years of awarding comedy excellence, reflecting the rich heritage of comedy talent recognised and its status as a springboard for comedians who have gone on to become household names at home and abroad. UKTV’s award winning entertainment channel Dave also returns as
proud sponsor of the Awards this August.

Nica Burns, longstanding Producer & Director of Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards, said: “We are so glad to finally be back celebrating the very best of British comedy with four decades of talent alongside our partner Dave, the home of comedy and entertainment TV. With a rich 40-year history, Dave’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards have shone the spotlight on the next generation of comedians and championed comedy as a vital sector of the entertainment industry. Our winners and nominees can be constantly seen and heard across all media channels, they cross over into dramatic roles and write, act and make movies. We’re looking forward to a bumper
year of exciting, outstanding comedy talent.”

The inaugural Comedy Award winners were The Cambridge Footlights in 1981,
whose line-up included Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. Other
winners whose careers have soared since carrying off the awards range from the lateSean Hughes, still the youngest ever winner at age 24, to Rose Matafeo, Hannah Gadsby, Bridget Christie, Russell Kane, Richard Ayoade, Al Murray, The League of Gentlemen, Dylan Moran, Jenny Eclair, Harry Hill, Lee Evans, Steve Coogan and Frank Skinner.
Our 2019 winners, Jordan Brookes and Catherine Cohen have had a busy couple of years. Brookes has taken his acclaimed Edinburgh show around the UK and beyond, hosted his own BBC Radio 4 series Jordan Brookes on…, has made a pilot for Channel 4 and recently launched a brand new podcast with Dave, Look At What You’ve Done. Meanwhile American Catherine Cohen co-hosts the popular podcast Seek Treatment whilst her debut one-hour comedy special The Twist? She’s Gorgeous is now streaming on Netflix.


Past nominees include James Acaster, Nish Kumar, Sara Pascoe, Romesh
Ranganathan, Darren Harriott, Ivo Graham, Lucy Beaumont, London Hughes, Mae Martin, Sophie Willan, Seann Walsh, Greg Davies, Sarah Millican, John Bishop, Russell Howard, Chris Addison, Reginald D Hunter, Adam Hills, Jimmy Carr, Omid Djalili, Noel Fielding, Sean Lock, Lee Mack, Peter Kay, Graham Norton, Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard.

Dave has a well-established passion for supporting fresh comedy, and with a growing slate of UKTV Originals, the channel prides itself on supporting new talent and bringing in young audiences. Original comedy programming attracting an over 25% or more 16-34 audience profile include Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, BAFTA-winning Big Zuu’s Big Eats and Josh Widdicombe and James Acaster’s Hypothetical.

Cherie Cunningham, Channel Director for Dave, said: “Here at Dave we are so
passionate about comedy, and nowhere does it better than the Edinburgh Comedy Awards. It’s a real source of pride that so many previous winners and nominees are making and appearing in UKTV Original comedy shows on Dave, and I’m sure that after a few years away, 2022’s Awards are going to be an excellent edition full of truly exciting acts.”
A full history of the winners and nominees, eligibility rules and all other details about the Awards can be found at: http://www.comedyawards.co.uk

TASKMASTER CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS INTERVIEWS

 

Kerry Godliman

Why did you agree to do Champion of Champions?

I’d do Taskmaster every week if they’d have me.

There’s nothing else like it. It’s very creative, and it doesn’t feel like a competition. I just find it really silly and playful and fun.

Greg and Alex are extremely funny and I like that the tasks are so varied. This episode of Champion of Champions is a great example of that.

You’ve got an arty one, a practical one, and I like that variety compared to a lot of competitions where you’re just doing one thing.

What was the reaction like to your series?

The people that love Taskmaster, really love Taskmaster and they really liked my season. I thought season seven was a lovely, lovely one and people have a lot of affection for it.

So I’ve always been pleased to be part of that group.

A lot of former contestants have become good friends. Does it feel like there’s a Taskmaster family?

Sometimes it does, yeah. I’m always keen to know who’s doing it next because it feels like they’re joining the fleet. It does have a sort of Freemason kind of vibe with the secret handshake.

In this Champion of Champions, you revealed you keep your trophy in a garage amongst “a lot of crap” and Greg wasn’t very happy about it.

Yeah but it’s needed crap. It’s valued crap. I know that might seem like an oxymoron but I keep my camping gear in there, and that’s some of my most treasured possessions.

I just think the trophy is a bit creepy and I live with children so I don’t know where else I would put it. I genuinely don’t know where I would put it in the house.

It’s huge and it’s quite austere and it’s mildly threatening. I’m happy with it in the garage.

Was it a different experience to do a show with other contestants who’ve all done it before?

What’s funny is that normally in a series it’s like human tapas so you’ll have a cerebral one and a surreal one and a lazy one and an efficient one and that’s what’s charming about each series.

But when you’ve got five champions, they might be more similar so I went into it thinking, “Maybe we’ll all do the same sort of thing.”

But that wasn’t true at all. We all did really different things. For my prize task, I genuinely thought everyone would do the same as me. It seemed really obvious to me. And I can’t believe nobody else did it.

How did you get on with Greg?

The beauty of watching this show is how arbitrary he is about everything, but it’s maddening when you’re a contestant.

But I think he was pleased with the fact we all brought our A-game. Right from the start, he was impressed with us because sometimes people just come on to the prize task with absolute rubbish and it really irritates him, but we all offered pretty great stuff and that kicked it off.

I think he was like, “Wow, these are good”. That set the tone.

Did you do anything differently this time around compared to your original series?

No, I sort of wish I had. In retrospect, I now have regrets and I have things I would say.

But no, I didn’t really overthink it. If I had a strategy at all, it was not to have a strategy. I just went in and tried to be a bit instinctive, but maybe I should have thought about it more.

Greg invented a catchphrase for you during your series, “bosh”. How do you feel about that – does it follow you around?

Yeah, it does. I’ve ended up just leaning into it. I even called my last tour Bosh. It represents a side of my nature that I both celebrate and wince at in equal measure.

It does prove how astute Greg is: he nailed your personality with that catchphrase.

Yeah, he definitely has a good a good eye for my nature. It’s like cheap therapy really. Go on there and get your personality wrung out.

People seem to use Alex as a prop more and more often these days. Did you do that in Champions?

He’s kind of like a stooge in the house so you do need to make the most of his presence. He’s there for the taking.. It’s a waste not to dress him up or make him do stupid things.

There was an art task where we really got to go wild with him. Although I don’t know if I would play it differently now.

I just couldn’t resist it. I wouldn’t say it was a particularly cerebral contribution.

Any favourite moments?

I’m not going to say what it is but Liza’s outfit is going to blow people’s minds.

And Richard did a task involving his feet which was stand-out for me. He’s got Frodo-like feet. I don’t want to be mean but they were kind of repulsive.

Lou was hilarious, defending her prize. She just dug and dug and dug. You want to say, “Stop digging, leave it”, but she was just on a mission.

Ed really smashed it with one task and on another one was really flailing around and getting angry. I love him. He gets really angry but it gets him nowhere.

You brought in a former contestant for a surprise cameo, too.

I don’t know how that happened, to be honest. He just engineered his way in and I realised with retrospect I’d been completely played. But it was nice to have him there as a little talisman.

Greg said recently he could never compete on Taskmaster, even for a comedy sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you agree he would be?

I don’t think he would. I mean, he’s brilliant at being the Taskmaster but I don’t think he would be very good at doing the tasks.

It’s so fragile, that status that he’s wielding, that anything could topple it. I mean, it’s on ice, isn’t it? It’s on a plinth of matchsticks. If there was one chink of humiliation in that persona, he’d be ruined.

So he’s right never to do it.

Ed Gamble

What was the reaction from fans to your series?

It was really good, I think the show has a really good fan base. They’re lovely, but I don’t think you could be angry and watch Taskmaster, to be honest. and I think that’s all credit to the show.

Alex established the show with a very, very lovely atmosphere.

I mean, I don’t like sports but I think this is sport for proper nerds. You can share your favourites, you can get excited when they achieve something.

I’m led to believe that in sport people don’t tend to laugh when things go wrong, so in a way this is better than sport.

There’s nothing more fun than really digging down into the minutiae of something ridiculous and I think that’s what people enjoy doing – chatting over the scoring. The whole thing’s ridiculous but that’s fun to get serious about.

How does Greg’s head compare to an FA Cup trophy?

Greg’s head is the ultimate thing to win. I’m very, very happy to have one. Some people have said the show is not about winning but I think they’re approaching it all wrong.

You’ve got to want to win, you’ve got to throw yourself into it otherwise you’re not going to be your best self.

Where do you keep your trophy?

It sits directly in line of sight in my zoom calls, at the back of my office on a high cabinet. It’s the first thing people see when they do a zoom with me on my Taskmaster podcast.

Having said all of that about winning, I think just being on the show is such a wonderful thing. I’m very very happy and proud that I was ever asked to do it.

Talk me through your outfit for Champion of Champions?

I thought for a long time about what I was going to wear. For the full series you want to wear something comfortable but this was only one day so I thought I’d go big.

It’s a baby blue, 70s tuxedo with a ruffled shirt and bow tie. I wanted to go for the kind of Dumb and Dumber look or just like a proper horrible prom suit with the massive wide lapels and the silk stripe down the trousers.

I just thought that if any of the tasks went terribly, it would be hilarious for them to go wrong wearing that suit.

Did you do anything differently in Champion of Champions compared to the full series?

I really came out swinging, I argued every single tiny point. There were moments in the series where I thought, “I can probably take a backseat, I’m not going to say anything because I’ve got to come back and see these people tomorrow.’

But for Champion of Champions I went into the studio like I never had to see any of them ever again.

And how did that go down with Greg?

I think you can imagine how that went but it was a lot of fun to really go for it. And I think Greg respected me more for it.

There was a moment in a task to do with ducks where I think you nearly lost the plot ….

I completely lost my mind. I did what you shouldn’t do on Taskmaster, which is to keep going with something even when it’s clearly not working.

What I should have done was to try something new instead of pursuing the same thing for hours until its inevitable conclusion.

But once I’d lost a certain amount of time, I thought, “I’ve just got to keep going”. Alex and the entire crew were laughing at me.

It was funny to start with, then we were all looking at our watches, and then it got funny again and then everyone got angry. Madder and madder and madder.

You made as if to storm off. Did you really think about just going home?

Yeah. Every 10 minutes I thought about that. At no point did I think, “It’s alright because this will be good telly.” None of it was the for the telly. The crew could have packed up and gone home and I’d have still been doing it.

How did you get on with the other contestants?

I knew beforehand that I liked all of them so I knew it would be a fun studio record.

Kerry’s an absolute pitbull, she was sat next to me so she kept me in check. She’s brilliant.

I’d never met Liza before and I was so excited to meet her. She totally lived up to my expectations.

I’m friends with Lou anyway so I knew what to expect and she was absolutely off the chain as per usual.

Richard unfortunately became the whipping boy immediately. Both me and Greg like to torment Richard quite a lot, so that was fun.

It feels to me as if people are using Alex more and more as a kind of prop these days. Would you agree?

Yeah, poor guy, we really went for it. To be fair, one of the tasks demanded it, so that’s his fault.

And with the others, if they ask you to do something “elaborately” or whatever then you very quickly realise you need Alex, who is basically just a fleshy prop. He’s asking for it, he’s so easy to use and to humiliate.

And Greg loves it so you know it’s a bit of a win if you do it.

Greg said recently he would never take part in Taskmaster, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good and he’d win everything. Do you agree that he’d be great?

I mean, I think we all know that the reason Greg won’t do it is because he knows that if there was a physical task, he’d have a heart attack and explode.

Would Alex be any good?

He writes the tasks, obviously, so they’re all in his voice and that’s his sense of humour and the way he looks at the world. So I think he’d nail it straight away.

Although quite often we’d do a task and Alex would have had no idea it could be done like that. There are so many different ways of doing them all and it’s up to people’s interpretation.

But I do feel like Alex would be would be pretty amazing.

Do you do any of the Taskmaster games at home?

No, I think if there was any more Taskmaster in my life, my wife would leave me. She has to deal with it so much.

I do the podcast, so I watch the episodes in advance all at once because I’m so excited for a new series.

Then I watch them all week by week as they go out live, and I’m always interviewing people about Taskmaster.

Then quite often if I’m flicking around the channels and there’s a repeat on, I’ll watch it. There is absolutely no way she would put up with anything else Taskmaster based.

Congratulations on your wedding. There was a good Taskmaster contingent there.

It was fantastic. Thank you, we had a really good day. It was a lot of people’s first day out like that in 18 months or two years so it went off. It was great.

It was lovely to have so many Taskmaster guys there.

Lou Sanders

Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

Oh, it was a no-brainer. It was just so nice to see everyone and I can’t imagine anyone saying “no”.

Was it a different experience doing Champion of Champions compared to the full series?

Yeah, the pressure’s off. Everybody wants to win the series when they do it so they can come back for Champions, because it’s the most fun show in the world.

Whereas Champions is so nice and relaxing because you just think, “Well, nobody’s coming back, let’s just have fun.”

You did get quite argumentative with Greg though …

Yeah. It’s funny isn’t it? Me and Ed beforehand were saying, “I’m not even competitive, this doesn’t matter”, but then throughout the show we all got a bit competitive in different ways.

Where do you keep your Greg head?

On my sewing basket. Sorry, I’m just showing off that I’ve got a sewing basket. I don’t sew.

What was the reaction from fans to your series?

People are really nice about it, they just love it. They can watch it with their kids and it has a really warm place in their heart. I don’t want to be too cheesy, but it’s so amazing to be part of.

I rollerskate and one guy at the skate park said “Oh, I loved your Taskmaster” and then I was really embarrassed because it’s sort of embarrassing people knowing who you are when you feel a bit vulnerable at the skate park.

So I said, “Oh, thank you” and promptly fell over.

You wore your rollerskates on the show …

Yeah, I think it’s nice to really go for it with your outfit, especially as it’s a one-off.

But oh my God, Liza Tarbuck blew me away with her outfit. I don’t want to give the game away but when you see what she does with her outfit: I just couldn’t believe how good it was.

I loved Ed’s outfit as well. He looked like such a beautiful wally.

Is it a different vibe, doing the show with four others who’ve all won the show before?

It’s a lot more relaxed. I was quite nervous when I did mine three years ago because it was my first big TV series.

This time it was more relaxed because we’ve done it before, we know each other, and the pressure was off. It was just a lot of fun.

Me and Kerry have just done a camping show together, The Outsiders, so we knew each other well. I already knew Ed and Richard really well.

I’d never met Liza before but I felt an affinity with her which was inflamed on the show. I always loved her, even on the Big Breakfast before I went to school.

I remember at the time I just couldn’t believe how funny she was and her tone and everything.

I was just like, wow, you just don’t see such strong, funny women talking in their own voice and playing by their own rules the way she did. That was really unusual.

You had quite a heated argument with Kerry over points at one point …

I love Kerry, she’s such a beautiful soul in this world. I couldn’t believe my luck, everybody in that show is an absolute diamond.

There was no serious competition, we all really like and respect each other. I have glee in my heart when I think of any one of those guys.

Did you do anything differently this time around compared to your own series?

No, but I think I was more relaxed

I did change my mind three times about the prize task round. I thought we should put a lot of effort into it.

I think the rest of the tasks were quite light and fun but also quite romantic. I thought they were quite sweet tasks.

Did you enjoy using Alex as a prop?

He loves it. He loves being humiliated.

Didn’t he look lovely in my task? I can’t give too much away but I was doing that boy a favour and he should never forget it.

Was Greg on good form?

He was on great form. He’s never looked better, for a start.

I think it’s nice for Greg and Alex having us back because they know our vibes and that makes it easy for them. They don’t need to help everyone feel relaxed because everybody is already.

Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

That’s the kind of thing a child would say. “No, I’d be too good.” Come on, Greg. The real reason he won’t do it is because he doesn’t want his authority to be stripped.

I think he’d be totally cack-handed which would be quite good to watch.

I think Alex would be brilliant, and Greg would be crap, which is why he’d never do it.

Richard Herring

Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

It was just so nice to do. There was a little bit of pressure off in terms of doing the tasks because it overwhelms you when you’re doing it for the series and you’re so nervous about messing up.

To come back and do an extra one-off episode, I just felt a lot more relaxed about the whole thing.

That’s the lovely thing about winning the series, is you get to have another go.

I know that’s how Johnny Vegas felt about this series, he told me it doesn’t matter who wins but the nice thing is you get to come back if you do win. It feels like a special little reward.

And, you know, it’s the nicest job you’ll ever have. It’s fun to be set tasks by Alex and do a challenge and then realise, “Oh I’m being paid for this – technically it’s an actual job.”

Don’t tell them this but I would do it for free, five days a week.

What was the atmosphere like?

Brilliant. When I did the series we had no audience and we were socially distant so it was a very different thing this time around.

It was a very nice atmosphere and it felt like a celebration of the show.

We’d all won a series already and it was just an extra bit of fun, so it didn’t feel particularly competitive. Everyone got their moment to shine.

Was it really not competitive?

Well, no, but we did all try very hard. I think it’s important to do your best and try to win.

If you’re not at least slightly competitive with it – well, Jo Brand wasn’t and she was glorious – but if you’re just trying to be funny and not actively try hard then generally it doesn’t work as well.

How did you get on with Greg?

I think he was a bit thrown by the fact I’ve lost some weight and I was dressed slightly less scruffy than usual so he left me alone a bit and I also got some praise from him for the first time ever.

But he was rude to me as well and I do love it when he’s rude. It’s part of the fun.

I can’t imagine anybody else doing that role. He’s so brilliant.

He’s got to be tough and commanding but then he’s also got to be funny and that’s a very difficult line to tread.

Even when you’re the victim, he’s got such a good eye and a good use of language and he’s so good at honing in on our weaknesses, you just have to admire it.

Did you do anything differently compared to in your own series?

I did try very hard in my series and I think sometimes that came across as a bit “route one”.

So this time I wanted to think a bit more about finding interesting ways to do things, because that’s something I hadn’t really excelled in doing previously.

But you know, you can’t really win or lose, it’s just lovely to take part.

When I won my series I said to Daisy [May Cooper], “All this means is that I was better than you at threading some polos onto dried spaghetti while wearing some mittens, it’s not really a skill for life.”

Is she still bitter about the drawing task that you lost together?

She was super competitive and I love her for it. She has so much more confidence and self-belief than I do, and she was very confident that the animal she’d drawn was definitely a hippo and that I’d know that.

She was quite heavily pregnant and she was absolutely incredible so even I feel a bit sad that she didn’t win the series. She really wanted it.

What’s the feedback been like from fans about your series?

People really get behind who they like and so some people were furious that I beat Daisy and couldn’t understand that!

But what I like about the show is that you end up liking everyone even if you don’t know who they are or you’re not sure about them at first.

Everyone on it is an exceptional talent and the nice thing about Champions is that everyone got their moment to shine and everyone was very funny.

People love the show and are very supportive and I think certainly people who were listening to my podcast were trying to get me on it for so long, and they were just so happy that I was on it.

I’ve had a lot of lovely support, especially from my own friends. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience: even when Greg lays in to me I just find it so funny.

What do you think is the secret to its popularity?

There’s so much love in it, and the team behind it are the greatest team I’ve ever worked with on any TV show in terms of their commitment to the ideas.

When you have to make a little film or something, the work they put into that and what they add and the effort that goes into making your work look the best it can be, are just phenomenal. They understand what works.

It’s reality TV in a way because it’s real, and the comedy is obviously improvised, and we have no idea what’s coming up, and I think that’s what draws people in.

I watched it as a fan before I was on it and you watch it thinking, “It would be great to do that” and “I’d be terrible at that” or “I’d be great at that”, which is part of the fun.

Where do you keep your Greg head?

I had to hide it for a while as there’s a gap between winning and it being broadcast where you have to be secretive and put it in the attic; I was really careful.

But I’ve had it out a few times. I do a stupid ventriloquist show and I think it turned up in that as a prop.

Or occasionally someone wants to see it so I’ll get it out and share it on the zoom call. But yeah, it’s just lying on the floor at the moment, I haven’t got a trophy cabinet.

Mind you, I never won anything for so long and I’ve had a sudden burst of winning House of Games and The Chase, although you don’t get a trophy for that.

Talk me through the rest of the contestants: is it a different thing, going into it with four other winners?

A bit, but it doesn’t really affect you because all you can really think about each task is how you’re going to approach it yourself. The only time you really think of them as competition is during the final task in the studio.

I did think beforehand that maybe it wouldn’t work as well because everybody in it has been successful, and I wondered if everyone would be too good at doing the tasks and there wouldn’t be any funny mistakes.

But that was far from the case. There was plenty of variety in there.

Lou’s delightfully loopy and brilliant, Liza is so clever and in control, Ed’s over-keen and a massive fan of the show, and Kerry is no-nonsense and always getting her face in there.

So it was tough competition but that took the pressure off. Everybody was so good that it didn’t really matter what happened.

Does that mean it wasn’t competitive?

Well I’ve been on Ed’s podcast a few times and there’s a kind of jokey rivalry there. We’ve been on Twitter having a little banter about it.

What were the tasks like for Champions?

There were a couple of arty ones and art is my absolute worst nightmare because I’m so bad at it. Greg might as well just say, “There’s one point for you” before I even start.

I really threw myself into it and I was still terrible. I’ve done a lot of improvisation on other people’s shows and on my own show and it’s just about taking a leap of faith.

It’s the same as the way you write comedy, which is to switch off and let your subconscious take over. It might work, or it might not, but that’s the joy of it.

You did the show four weeks after having a testicle removed after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. Did you feel okay?

I was fine, really. Luckily there wasn’t too much action involved in the tasks and I was just about okay to do it.

I don’t want to say it would have been the worst thing about the operation but if I’d not got to do Taskmaster, which for a while I thought might be the case, it would have been terrible.

I was meant to be doing Taskmaster a week after the operation and obviously that wouldn’t have worked out so we pushed the dates back and I did it three weeks after.

Officially it should have been four weeks after the operation and I wasn’t supposed to lift anything but I wasn’t really required to lift anything hugely heavy. As long as I wasn’t going on any bicycles, I was given permission to do it.

I was a little bit unsteady on my feet still but the crew were helpful.

Did you take advantage of Alex and use him as a prop?

I don’t think I realised in the series that it’s fun to dress him up as a prop.

Also I think it’s nice to get a little bit of revenge because, as charming and as innocent as he appears, he’s the guy who’s pulling all the strings.

So it did feel quite cathartic to throw paint at him and say, “That’s for all the awful things you put me through.”

Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

That’s the thing: he can never do it. I was talking to David Mitchell about that on my podcast. He was saying, “People think I’ll be amazing and clever so all that can happen is that I can humiliate myself and dissuade them of that.”

I don’t think Greg could do the task because it would undermine his authority to too great an extent, unless it was the last ever episode.

I think he’d be very, very funny and he’s such an unusual shape that I think you’d get a lot of humour out of that. But I don’t think he would be good at it.

Liza Tarbuck

Why did you want to do Champion of Champions?

If I want to laugh, there are two programmes that do it for me: Gogglebox and Taskmaster because, with both of those shows, you feel like part of the gang.

That’s a difficult thing to do on TV and I think everybody chases that inclusivity.

And not even Gogglebox has the level of creativity that Taskmaster has.

It’s always so surprising how differently – or how exactly the same – everybody approaches their tasks because when you do the tasks you’re obviously on your own and you’ve got no idea what anybody else is doing.

All the crew are really straight-faced. No hints given. So when you’re at the house you’re like a detective and you try to ask, “Has anybody else done this?” but they won’t tell you and that’s just so unique.

What sort of reaction did you have from your series; do people still talk to you about it?

You know, what I think is funny is that because of my persona people don’t necessarily approach me!

But when people do, nobody has been anything other than excited by it. I talk about it, still, because it really pulls things out of you.

It’s just lovely to be able to do a job where you’re genuinely free and supported in that.  A lot of programming is about sort of controlling you, which sounds negative but that’s just the way it usually works.

And if you’re a person who doesn’t particularly enjoy that, which I don’t, Taskmaster is a pretty unique, positive experience.

It’s not for everybody because you are putting yourself out there, you’re very vulnerable. There’s no acting, there’s no preparation. So it’s testimony to people that do say “yes”.

Where do you keep your Greg head?

Mine’s in bed, in the spare room, ready for the next guest. Under the duvet is a plumped up body to make it look like he’s in the bed.

How did you get on with the other contestants?

It was just such a pleasure to meet them. I’d never met Ed or Lou but I really liked both of them.

I know Kerry from bits and pieces of work but we’re none of us big pals. We just had a lot of professional respect for each other before meeting, I guess, and it was really nice to meet them all.

I loved Ed’s suit. And bloody hell, his first prize task. I just don’t even know how he did it. It was really beautiful.

It did feel like everybody made a massive effort.

I think it’s respect to the programme. I wouldn’t have said “yes” if I wasn’t going to put in the effort.

It was just really nice to be back. You have no idea what’s going to happen.

Waking up and knowing you’re going into Taskmaster is the best feeling. I think I had one day during my series where I woke up slightly the wrong way and thought, “Oh, I don’t know about this”, and then I was suddenly like, “Yeah, I do”.

It’s magnificently creative. It’s the best fun.

How competitive was it?

I sat next to Ed, and watching him arguing was just marvellous. I think this show has done brilliant things for Ed Gamble. It’s his medium entirely.

And you need someone arguing. When somebody is judging my work, I go quiet. I just appreciate it. I just think, “I was only given 20 minutes to do that, that’s bloody brilliant”, or “Okay, what the hell was going on in my mind when I did that?” but I don’t argue about it. I just had a lovely time. So it’s good that Ed took on that role.

I have been competitive in my life, when I’ve played sports, but as you get older that just passes and you think, “It’s just lovely to be here”.

Did you approach anything differently for Champions compared to your series?

Well mine was a few years ago and since then and with lockdown, the programme really has got a life of its own.

You do want to contribute in the best way that you can because it’s, like I say, one of the shows that really makes me laugh.

What I learned from both doing my series and from watching subsequent series is that you never go into a room and don’t check under the table.

If you’re being asked something that’s slightly veiled, you have to stop and think, “What does this mean? It could mean anything” and go through the possibilities.

But also, you just don’t know what mood Greg’s in. The thing that you can’t forget is that you are ultimately looking to please him and he’s an arbitrator.

If there’s something up in one of the tasks he’s on it like a blooming rottweiler. There’s a moment in Champions that people are never going to forget, to do with Richard’s feet and Greg’s response to his task.

I think Greg takes the role very seriously. I think he understands that everyone’s laid themselves out a little bit bare but he’s very quick to pick up on stuff that happens. He’s really astute.

Did you use Alex a lot during the tasks?

I think it’s a shame if you don’t. I think it makes his day better.

What’s the secret to Taskmaster’s popularity, do you think?

When you watch the repeats, you very often see something new that you didn’t notice the first time, or you know that your favourite bit’s coming up. You can re-watch and think, “Actually, that was great”.

It’s a rare thing that you can slide through that time and time again.

And it does really capture the imagination and it encourages creativity.

During lockdown when Alex was doing weekly tasks on YouTube, that was absolute genius because they were so much fun and with everyone stuck at home, Greg was only too happy to judge them.

Alex is just brilliant at devising tasks. He knows what works.

And what I really love about it is that it’s all coming from a place of pleasantness.

Greg recently said he could never do a task, even for a charity sketch, because he’d be too good. Do you think that’s true?

Do you know what? The joy is, we will never know.

Her Majesty The Queen and Paddington Bear surprise 11.2 million UK viewers

Sharing a warm and hilarious cream tea at Buckingham Palace as tens of thousands of people watched outside the Royal household on big screens with millions more worldwide.

The two and half minute sequence, kept under wraps for several months by Buckingham Palace, BBC Studios and Heyday Films/STUDIOCANAL, sees Paddington delighted to learn that The Queen shares his love of marmalade sandwiches, with the Monarch even opening her iconic handbag to reveal her very own ready-made supply of Paddington’s bread and orange preserve staple inside. As the beloved bear shows Her Majesty what he hides underneath his hat, The Queen confirms “So do I,” before prising open her bag and remarking “I keep mine in here.”

Paddington also causes chaos by accidentally depriving the very forgiving Monarch of another cup of tea and spraying cream from a Chocolate Éclair over a Palace Footman.

The short film sees the Peruvian-born Bear congratulate The Queen on her remarkable reign, with Paddington exclaiming: “Happy Jubilee Ma’am. And thank you. For everything.” Her Majesty, as self-deprecating and modest as ever, simply replies “That’s very kind.”

The sequence ends with both The Queen and Paddington using a spoon to tap out the beat of Queen’s We Will Rock You anthem on a China teacup as the band themselves and The Corps of Drums from the Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines start the song on the main stage outside, with thousands of people around Buckingham Palace, The Mall and the Royal Parks joining in unison.

Buckingham Palace commented: “Her Majesty is well known for her sense of humour, so it should be no surprise that she decided to take part in tonight’s sketch. There was an interest in the filming and animation process and the opportunity to invite a famous bear to tea was just too much fun to miss. While The Queen may not be attending the concert in person, she was very keen that people understood how much it meant to her and that all those watching had a great time.”

Avoidance: Meet the cast of Romesh Ranganathan’s new comedy

Romesh Ranganathan and the cast of Avoidance tease his new comedy about a man with severe conflict avoidance issues who is forced to change for the sake of his son.

Romesh Ranganathan

Romesh Ranganathan as Jonathan in Avoidance

Tell us about your new series Avoidance and what audiences can expect from the show?

Avoidance is about a conflict-avoidant beta male, who is so frustrating to live with that his partner leaves. He is then forced to try and sort himself out, for the sake of this son. He ends up staying with his sister and her wife…it’s funnier than it sounds. It’s supposed to be funny with a bit of heart, but I’d settle for mildly diverting at this point. 

This is your first series with your own production company Ranga Bee for the BBC, how was that?

It’s cool to have a production company, but it does add extra anxiety when you know that any issues are something you need to worry about. I didn’t enjoy the idea that if I moaned about anything I was essentially slagging myself off. 

Tell us about the writing process for Avoidance. 

Ben Green and I had a version of this idea about five years ago and every now and then we would dip back into it and develop it further. Eventually we decided to put it together as an idea for the BBC. Ben, Neil Webster, Shaun Pye, Kefi Chadwick and myself thrashed out storylines and ideas, and then eventually wrote individual scripts before poring over them to make sure our characters seemed like real people. Then we spent the rest of the process worrying it was all rubbish. 

Do you have any similarities to your character Jonathan? 

His conflict-avoidant beta maledom is based on my own character, but I would like to think I hide it a bit better than Jonathan does. The fact that Ben agreed it would be a good starting point for a comedy suggests I don’t. 

Do you have any favourite memories from filming?

I think the first scene with Kieran who plays Spencer – he was who I filmed with on the first few days. He was just so natural and brilliant and I remember thinking we were onto something good with him. It was a really nice moment, swiftly followed by waves of anxiety about my own performance. 

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

We didn’t have people in mind specifically, but we were lucky that in each of the main roles, the cast had taken the characters beyond how we even imagined they could be. Jess, Lisa and Mandeep are the most incredible actors, and they brought their characters to life in a way that had us all buzzing. We have really lucked out with them – every day they were looking at scenes and how to approach them and improve them. 

How was filming with your fellow cast mates? Have you worked with any of them before?

I worked with Lisa on King Gary and thought she was amazing, and worked with Jess on Judge Romesh, which I thought went well, but she has since told me I seemed a bit stressed on that, and I thought I was being charming, so I’m glad we’ve had this experience to wash that away. I watched Mandeep in After Life and thought she was excellent, but had never worked with her. Kieran is of course a megastar in the making.

Jessica Knappet

Jessica Knappet as Claire in Avoidance

Tell us about Avoidance and what audiences can expect from the show?

It’s a naturalistic sitcom about Jonathan, a conflict-avoidant Dad, played by Romesh, who separates from his wife (me) and moves in with his sister (Mandeep) and her wife (Lisa) who hates him.  Quite a lot of people don’t like Jonathan and he’s trying to figure out why that might be and become a better person. A lot of the comedy comes from the fact that he has a hard time owning up to his terrible mistakes and the convoluted ways he evades facing the awful truth.

Do you have any similarities to your character? 

Yes. In contrast to Jonathan, Claire’s not afraid to say and show exactly how she feels, which is something I can relate to. For an actress I am actually very bad at disguising my emotions, something my husband knows all about. Claire’s openly aggravated by Jonathan from the moment we meet her, which has been really fun to play. I love the honesty of being beyond pretending and playing nice in a relationship. I totally get that – I would call it communication but my husband would call it shouting. She’s not immune to making bad decisions herself, though, as we find later in the series.  Again, relatable.

Do you have any favourite memories from filming?

Romesh and Ben Green (director) were really open to us improvising which there isn’t always much time for in television. I really enjoyed any scene where Claire was putting Jonathan in his place, especially because Romesh in real life is all about the withering put-downs. It was fun sparring with him and it’s such a buzz when you’re given the freedom to ad lib a bit, especially when the person you’re playing opposite happens to be one of the funniest comedians in the UK. That said, I’m pretty sure most of it was unusable because we were just laughing instead of acting but the main thing is we enjoyed ourselves.

How was filming with your fellow cast mates? Have you worked with any of them before?

It was so nice to have a small core cast. We all got on really well, Mandeep and Lisa are really positive, naturally funny people and it was always a good vibe on set. Romesh is incredibly relaxed, or really good at pretending to be anyway. I think because Rom and Ben have worked together for so long and they created the show together, they were so confident about what they wanted and they are both very good at bringing out the best in people. It was one of the happiest, most laid-back sets I’ve ever been on. I think there is a relaxed tone to the show because of that.

Do you think Claire’s relationship to Jonathan, and also Spencer will be a relatable one that isn’t often shown in TV?

Yes Claire and Jonathan’s relationship is possibly so relatable that we are going to trigger a thousand separations! She has a really good relationship with her son and wants to protect him and I think what’s heart-breaking and might be relatable for lots of people is that struggle with what’s right for her personally, the relationship and what’s right for her child. Something I really loved about Claire’s character was that she isn’t the cliché nagging ex, she’s confident and sarcastic but she also has her own doubts and fears and she remains compassionate towards Jonathan, despite the fact that he is completely useless.

Mandeep Dhillon

Mandeep Dhillon as Danielle in Avoidance

Tell us about Avoidance and what audiences can expect from the show?

It’s a story of dysfunctional family dealing with Romesh’s characters inability to deal with conflict. I play his sister who has become a therapist and who tries to stay positive, emotionally present and in control but finds her front slipping and reverting to childish arguments when around her brother. Having Spencer stay and seeing her wife’s warming to have a child in the house reawakens her desire to have her own child. Problem is that discussion was had and put to bed years ago and her wife Courtney is the best as being open to change.

Avoidance is a celebration of what it is to be a loving and sometimes dysfunctional family unit. At its centre is Jonathan, a man who has some serious avoidance issues but who is being forced to change for the sake of his son. I think audiences will watch it and be able to relate. It’s a fun and bittersweet show.

Do you have any similarities to your character?

The only thing that is similar is that we share a slight OCD for needing things to be in order. I wish I had more similarities to Dan because I admire her so much, but the truth is, I don’t. Dan is very mature, something that I’m still working on and she can cook up a storm in the kitchen, again, something I’m still working on!

Do you have any favourite memories from filming?

I can honestly say this was the most unprofessional I have ever behaved on a set before! I would get the giggles almost every day and mid scene would just be crying with laughter which is a testament to the other cast members because they were so funny. One of the funniest scenes AND hardest scenes was the scene in episode 1 where you meet Dan and Courtney. Having to eat that disgusting frittata was AWFUL! Myself and Lisa would corpse every time it got close to me having to try some because it genuinely was disgusting to eat. I also loved filming the argument between Dan and Courtney in Episode 5.

How was filming with your fellow cast mates? Have you worked with any of them before?

I LOVE EVERYONE IN THIS CAST. Working with Rom, Lisa, Kieran and Jess was such a joy. We really did become a family on and off set. Rom is such a talented man, and the loveliest person I have ever met, we really have become brother and sister. Lisa, who is now my BFF, would have me crying with laughter in a take because she is so funny. Kieran is my spirit animal, and weirdly the same maturity level as me (he is 10, I am 31) and Jess loves my favourite Bollywood film, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and would even sing along to it with me. I mean what is not to love?

What were your first impressions of the script?

When I read the script I thought it was a perfect balance of funny, heart-warming and important. I was so happy to read a script where this beautiful blend of a family just existed without question of their race, culture and sexuality. These characters all accept one another just as they are, even Jonathan, who is a hot mess. It made me so happy to see a brown family on screen who represent what it is to actually be brown, NORMAL. It’s so important to me that people who look like me are seeing a true reflection of themselves on screen and for that I’m so happy that this show was even created let alone commissioned by the BBC.

You play a brilliant aunt in the show, does that come from real experience?

I really enjoyed playing an aunt to little Spencer. I am an aunt in real life and so I was able to transfer the love I have for my niece onto Spencer. I love my niece as if she were my own daughter and I have a lovely relationship with all of my aunts, so I really wanted to bring that into Dan’s world. As I said before, Kieran is my spirit animal, we would make up songs and raps together and play silly games. He is basically on my level, or I’m on his level, so that made it so easy for me.

What can you tell us about Courtney and Danielle’s relationship?

Courtney and Dan’s relationship is wonderful. I loved this dynamic. Courtney is basically a teenager and Dan is the therapist mum. You can tell they have been together forever there is such a level of comfort between them.

Lisa McGrillis

Lisa Mc Grillis as Courtney in Avoidance

Tell us about Avoidance and what audiences can expect from the show? 

Avoidance is about a man who is separating from his partner and trying to protect their child from being affected by it, by completely avoiding the situation. In fact he avoids any type of confrontation or difficult situation. 

Him and his son end up living with his sister and her wife and they have to learn to live alongside each other and it isn’t easy for any of them.

Do you have any similarities to your character? 

I’d like to say no, but truly the difference between myself and Courtney is that I have a filter and Courtney doesn’t. She unashamedly says exactly what she feels, she doesn’t dampen the blow. She thinks Jonathan is pathetic and needs to grow a back bone and she doesn’t hold back from telling him because that’s what she thinks. Simple. I’d probably be much more empathetic. 

How was filming with your fellow cast mates? Have you worked with any of them before? 

Romesh and I worked with each other in King Gary, the rest of the cast were new to me but will remain firm friends whether they like it or not! It turned out that Mandeep lived literally around the corner from me for years and we never knew it. But she’s moved to LA now which is sad because I would definitely have made her my BFF. We are going to have to be pen pals now instead.

What were your first impressions of the script?

I loved it!

How does Avoidance compare to anything else you have starred in?

I really love the simplicity of it. I also like playing someone who the audience might not necessarily warm too straight away. It’s fun playing someone who really doesn’t care about what people think of her, because I very much do care about what people think of me.

What can you tell us about Courtney and Danielle’s relationship?

They are in a very normal, pretty healthy relationship. They argue, they disagree, their communication is sometimes terrible but ultimately they love each other. Courtney is a massive child at times and Dan often ends up diffusing sticky situations that Courtney has created by mothering her. But I think Courtney often surprises Dan when Courtney’s inability to filter works for the greater good.

 

 

Backlash over Ricky Gervais Netflix special Supernature

The comedians Netflix special has come under fire from many other stand-up performers, causing a Twitter storm and some viewers claiming to have cancelled their subscription to the streamer.

In SuperNature, Gervais makes a string of what he describes as ironic and satirical jokes about trans people and female comedians which generated a great deal of laughter from the audience.

Gervais told BBC One’s The One Show on Tuesday that comedy is for “getting us over taboo subjects”.

He said: “I think that’s what comedy is for, really – to get us through stuff, and I deal in taboo subjects because I want to take the audience to a place it hasn’t been before, even for a split second. Most offence comes from when people mistake the subject of a joke with the actual target.”

He said audience members go through mixed of emotions when hearing a near-the-knuckle joke. “It starts and they go, what’s he going to say? I tell the joke. Phew, they laugh. It’s like a parachute jump – it’s scary, but then you land and it’s all OK. I think that’s what comedy is for – getting us over taboo subjects so they’re not scary any more. So I deal with everything. And I think we second guess the audience too much.”

However, Glaad the US GBLT rights group didn’t agree  “It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric an spreads inaccurate information about HIV.” officials posted on the group’s Twitter page,

Gervais defended himself saying that for each joke, he momentarily takes whatever stance would make it funnier – “without prejudice” – and insisted that the gags do not represent his actual views and should just be seen as what they are, jokes.

“In real life, of course I support trans rights,” he said. “I support all human rights and trans rights are human rights. Adding “it’s mad to think that joking about something means you’re anti-it”.

On The One Show, Gervais referred to his hugely successful Netflix series After Life, saying some had questioned whether the audience can “take this”.

“Of course they can,” he continued. “Real life is much worse. These are just jokes. They don’t mean anything. They’re just for you to laugh for an hour or so. So that’s why I deal in taboo subjects.”

 
 

Netflix Is A Joke Festival Streaming

The biggest live, in-person event in Netflix history: Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival will be available to watch on the streamer: 

LILY TOMLIN AND JANE FONDA PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Elizabeth Morris / courtesy of Netflix

LILY TOMLIN AND JANE FONDA PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Elizabeth Morris / courtesy of Netflix

These shows, along with additional specials coming to the service. Like the newest with Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, a history-making special filmed in front of NIAJ’s largest audience ever – a sold out Dodger Stadium! As a forlorn Montreal Expos fan, it was incredible to experience joy on a baseball diamond again. And Netflix is adding even more festival performances to it’s Sirius XM Netflix Is a Joke channel. 

GABRIEL “FLUFFY” IGLESIAS PERFORMING TO A SOLD-OUT CROWD AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Kevin Estrada & Troy Conrad / courtesy of Netflix

GABRIEL “FLUFFY” IGLESIAS PERFORMING TO A SOLD-OUT CROWD AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Kevin Estrada & Troy Conrad / courtesy of Netflix

These shows represent some of the best work done at Netflix, with the best comedic talent on the planet. Netflix is grateful to everyone who performed, helping to create the biggest comedy festival in US history. From Amy Poehler and Tina Fey in conversation to John Mulaney performing at both the Forum and the Hollywood Bowl, and an unforgettable evening during Stand Out … this festival was a celebration of comedy and a true civic event. 

STAND OUT: AN LGBTQ+ CELEBRATION AT THE GREEK THEATRE AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Beth Dubber / courtesy of Netflix

STAND OUT: AN LGBTQ+ CELEBRATION AT THE GREEK THEATRE AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Beth Dubber / courtesy of Netflix

There were so many special moments that are almost too numerous to mention – Bill Burr, Wanda Sykes and Kevin Hart headlining the biggest venues in town, Larry David charming everyone at the Greek, Seth Rogen leading hilarious table reads, free outdoor shows at the Palladium and Chris Rock surprising fans at the Hollywood Bowl. And, of course, Dave Chappelle’s four sold out stand-up shows at the Bowl will go down as one of the biggest successes of the festival. Just look at what we were able to accomplish together: 

  • 295 shows;

  • 336 comedians performing; 

  • 35+ venues across LA – from the Comedy Store and the Laugh Factory to the Dodgers Stadium, the Forum and the Hollywood Bowl, and many more in between;

  • And 260,000+ tickets sold.

Thanks to the hundreds of thousands of people who came to support and enjoy these shows. It was a great reminder that comedy helps bring us together. There’s nothing quite like being in a crowded theater or outdoor arena with hundreds to thousands of other people laughing their heads off with their favorite comics on stage. For everyone who couldn’t make it to LA, check out highlights from the festival here. And sit tight. There are plenty of great stand-up specials for you on Netflix very soon — it’ll almost feel like you were actually there.

“Live from Last Night” at Netflix Is a Joke: The Festival | Exclusive Clip and Photos – DAY SEVEN

 

Wednesday night, Bill Burr took the stage at the Hollywood Palladium for Friends Who Kill, which will premiere on Netflix. The show featured stand-up sets from Michelle Wolf, Jimmy Carr, Jessica Kirson, Ian Edwards, Dean Delray, Steph Tolev and Joe Bartnick. Jeff Ross and Dave Attell roasted themselves and the audience and the night concluded with a performance by Josh Adam Meyers’ God Damn Comedy Jam. Ronny Chieng also dropped by and brought the house down with a rendition of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”

BILL BURR PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix
BILL BURR PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix

Tuesday’s taping of Arsenio Hall at the theater inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel featured conversations with guests including Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, who discussed his historic shows this coming weekend at Dodgers Stadium. Hall was also joined by comedic trio 85 South, who honored him as one of their idols, plus comedy club royalty Jack Assadourian Jr. got the crowd laughing with a short stand up set. Special festival correspondent, Atsuko Okatsuka, also returned.

For his third show on Wednesday, Arsenio Hall returned for interviews with rap legend Snoop Dogg, who shared a blunt with Hall on stage. Also on hand were comedy icon Katt Williams, Abbot Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson and Chinedu Unaka who closed the show with a stand-up set.

 

 

ARSENIO HALL & GABE IGLESIAS AT  NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix

ARSENIO HALL & GABE IGLESIAS AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix
ARSENIO HALL & SNOOP DOGG AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix
ARSENIO HALL & SNOOP DOGG AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Adam Rose / courtesy of Netflix

 Wednesday’s events included a conversation between comedy legend Mike Myers and director David O. Russell in front of a packed audience at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres. The conversation was followed by a free fan screening of the first episode of Netflix’s new comedy series The Pentaverate, with a special introduction from Mike Myers himself.

Keegan-Michael Key, Ken Jeong, and Mike Myers attend The Pentaverate Premiere + After Party Photo credit: Araya Doheny/Getty Courtesy of Netflix

Keegan-Michael Key, Ken Jeong, and Mike Myers attend The Pentaverate Premiere + After Party; Photo credit: Araya Doheny/Getty Courtesy of Netflix

Tuesday night saw two sets by comedy icons Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin who hosted Ladies Night Live at Hollywood Palladium, which will premiere on Netflix. The trailblazers and entertainment legends gave the audience an evening of top notch stand-up featuring guests Michelle Buteau, Cristela Alonzo, Margaret Cho, Heather McMahan, Tracey Ashley, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, and Iliza Shlesinger. 

LILY TOMLIN AND JANE FONDA PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Elizabeth Morris / courtesy of Netflix

LILY TOMLIN AND JANE FONDA PERFORMING AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Elizabeth Morris / courtesy of Netflix

 Tuesday’s events also included a celebration  of the late, great Norm Macdonald. The room was filled with MacDonald’s closest family and friends. Conan O’Brien MC’d, as some told personal stories and shared their fondest and funniest memories of the comedy legend. Guests in attendance included Adam Sandler, Judd Apatow, Kevin Nealon, David Spade, Conan O’Brien, Colin Quinn, Molly Shannon,  and more.

 ADAM SANDLER, JUDD APATOW, AND KEVIN NEALON AT THE NORM MACDONALD TRIBUTE Photo credit: Tommaso Boddi / courtesy of Netflix

ADAM SANDLER, JUDD APATOW, AND KEVIN NEALON AT THE NORM MACDONALD TRIBUTE; Photo credit: Tommaso Boddi / courtesy of Netflix

 Wednesday night also included a hilarious set from Mexican comedian legend Franco Escamilla at Hollywood Pantages Theatre and Craig Robinson at Troubadour with his band The Nasty Delicious.

FRANCO ESCAMILLA AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Terence Patrick / courtesy of Netflix

FRANCO ESCAMILLA AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Terence Patrick / courtesy of Netflix
CRAIG ROBINSON  AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Randy Shropshire / courtesy of Netflix
CRAIG ROBINSON AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Randy Shropshire / courtesy of Netflix

 The Oprheum was in the mood for love on Tuesday for night three of Seth Rogen’s Table Read of the comedy classic When Harry Met Sally. Rogen kicked the night off praising the film and its star Billy Crystal who he described as “the pinnacle of Jewish male sexuality.” Rogen assumed the role of “Jess,” Harry’s best friend, and introduced a stellar line up including Nick Kroll as Harry and Zazi Beats as Sally. The cast was rounded out by Casey Wilson, Atsuko Okatsuka, Rory Scovel, Tommy Chong and June SquibbStephen Merchant acted as narrator. Zazi Beats did not disappoint in her recreation of Sally’s orgasm scene in Katz’s Deli. She was only slightly up-straged by June Squibb’s delivery of the classic follow up – “I’ll have what she’s having.” A small ensemble provided musical cues from the film’s soundtrack throughout the night.

Wednesday night marked the fourth and final night if Seth Rogen’s Table Reads featuring  a reading of the Clueless script in front of a packed  house. Lily Collins read as Cher, Mason Gooding read as Travis, Quinta Brunson read as Tai, Storm Reid read as Dionne, King Bach readas Murray, Joel Kim Booster read as Christian, Ray Romano read as Mr. Hall/Mel Horowitz, Kerri Kenney-Silver read as Amber/Miss Geist (and others), Jimmy Tatro read as Elton, and original cast member Breckin Meyer read as Josh. With music by the Red Room Orchestra who aptly covered The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

WATCH AN EXCLUSIVE CLIP OF “THE ORGASM SCENE” FROM WHEN HARRY MET SALLY READ

(L-R) TOMMY CHONG, CASEY WILSON, NICK KROLL, STEPHEN MERCHANT, JUNE SQUIBB, ATSUKO OKATSUKA, RORY SCOVEL, SETH ROGEN, ZAZI BEATS AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Charley Gallay (Getty) / courtesy of Netflix

(L-R) TOMMY CHONG, CASEY WILSON, NICK KROLL, STEPHEN MERCHANT, JUNE SQUIBB, ATSUKO OKATSUKA, RORY SCOVEL, SETH ROGEN, ZAZI BEATS AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Charley Gallay (Getty) / courtesy of Netflix
(L-R) SETH ROGEN, BRECKIN MEYER, LILY COLLINS, STORM REID & QUINTA BRUNSON AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Charley Gallay (Getty) / courtesy of Netflix
(L-R) SETH ROGEN, BRECKIN MEYER, LILY COLLINS, STORM REID & QUINTA BRUNSON AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Charley Gallay (Getty) / courtesy of Netflix

Last night, the legendary Conan O’Brien packed out The Wiltern for a live taping of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. After the thunderous applause subsided, he was joined by his assistant Sona Movsesian and producer Matt Gourley, and guest Bill Hader for a riveting conversation about Hader’s early life, success on Saturday Night Live, and hit show Barry. O’Brien closed out the evening with a cover of “We’re Going to Be Friends”, harmonizing alongside Jimmy Vivino and his band.

 

CONAN O’BRIEN  & BILL HADER AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL Photo credit: Andrew Toth / Getty/courtesy of Netflix
CONAN O’BRIEN & BILL HADER AT NETFLIX IS A JOKE: THE FESTIVAL; Photo credit: Andrew Toth / Getty/courtesy of Netflix

 Tuesday night also included John Mulaney at The Kia Forum, 85 South Show Presents: 5 on it at YouTube Theater, another evening of Aziz Ansari and Friends at The Orpheum Theatre, Laugh With Your Mouth Full: An Evening with Phil Rosenthal (Screening, Food and Q and A with Phil) at Avalon Hollywood, Jimmy O. Yang at Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Nate Bargatze at The Palace Theatre, Christina P and Why Won’t You Date Me? with Nicole Byer  at The Regent Theater, Stand-Up On The Spot, Guy Torry and Roast Battle at The Comedy Store, Made In Canada and Ismo & Friends at Laugh Factory, Luenell and Sam Morril, Brian Monarch and special guest at The Hollywood Improv, Neal Brennan: Unacceptable at Largo at the Coronet, Zach Zucker’s Stamptown The Bourbon Room, Beth Stelling, Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher – Endless Honeymoon Podcast Live at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever, The Pansexul Bachelor with Holmes and J.R De Guzman at The Elysian Theatre, and two sets with Janelle James at The Lab at The Hollywood Improv.

Wednesday night also included Mike Birbiglia Live! at The Theatre at Ace Hotel, Tony Baker and Friends at Avalon Hollywood, Anthony Jeselnik & Enemies at Wilshire Ebell Theatre, Ryan Hamilton at The Regent Theater, Comedy Chaos at The Comedy Store, two sets of Made in Brazil at Laugh Factory, Aida Rodriguez and Tonight at the Improv featuring Mark Normand, Sam Morril, Dusty Slay & more at The Hollywood Improv, Neal Brennan at Largo at the Coronet, Jessimae Peluso at The Bourbon Room, Colin Quinn at Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever, James Adomian and Mary Beth Barone at Elysian Theater, Chad and JT at Townhouse Venice, Morgan Jay and Women Crush Wednesday at The Lab at The Hollywood Improv, and Are You Still Listening? at SiriusXM Garage.

Introduction by Creator, Director, Writer and Executive Producer Holly Walsh, and Writer and Executive Producer Pippa Brown

“We’re very much picking up where we left off – the new series starts the morning after the night before. After leaving the audience on the cliffhanger of Cathy snogging her brother, we now see the fall out of this massive revelation. Cat and Cathy have understandably different reactions: Cat desperately wants to see her new bro, whilst Cathy struggles to come to terms that she FRENCHIED A SIBLING.

This show has always been a love letter to sisterhood, with Cat and Cathy still trying to work out how to co-exist as family – but now we’re throwing a new brother, Callum, into the mix too. Callum has to get his head around the fact that he’s been living a lie and that his ‘perfect’ family is not all that it seems. And there’s also Callum’s mother Angela – who’s finally had to fess up to the biggest secret of her life: that her son’s father is not who she says it is. All of this is alongside Tess and Marilyn’s gradual acceptance of Colin’s inability to keep his dick in his pants.

This series has been a joy to work on from start to finish and we couldn’t be more excited to be back on the BBC. Our core cast – Ellie White, Lauren Socha, Rebecca Front and Siobhan Finneran – were so funny and collaborative and we couldn’t be more chuffed to have Christopher Jeffers and Michele Austin join the gang. We also welcomed back Amit Shah and Caroline Quentin who were, as ever, brilliant sports and fantastic performers.”

Interview with Ellie White

Cathy (Ellie White), Cat (Lauren Socha)
Cathy (Ellie White), Cat (Lauren Socha)

Ellie White plays Cathy Walcott

Tell us a bit about where we find Cathy this series. Series one ended on such a cliff hanger!

At the end of series onr, Cathy is stood up at the altar and decides to go on her honeymoon with her sister instead. She finds herself getting very intimate with – potentially – her brother, which is where we find her in the second series. So she’s got the hangover to end all hangovers and on top of that, she may have just kissed her brother, which is, appalling and shocking to anyone – let alone to Cathy who’s one of the most neurotic, strait-laced people in the world. This is the biggest, wildest and also most horrific thing she’s ever done in her life. We see the fall-out from that and her getting back home and being grounded by the fact that she walks in on the tatters left by her horrible fiancé.

How does Cathy feel about Cat at the moment? Has their relationship changed at all since series one?

I definitely think they are friends now. Despite their differences, they’re friends. Which is really nice. They still don’t get each other fully, but they fill out each other’s blanks. Where Cathy is incredibly repressed, Cat is very straightforward and honest and where Cat is completely unhinged, Cathy is very “right, let’s do the sensible thing here”. They push each other in to areas that the other didn’t think they would ever go. It’s yin and yang. Chalk and cheese! But they’re friends despite all of that. The thing with me and Lauren is that we are chalk and cheese – but we get on so well.

We see a shock brother, Callum, join the fold this series along with his mum Angela. How does that change the dynamic?

The nice thing is that it doesn’t change the dynamic. There’s obviously this new friction. Cat is the most honest, open, open-minded person who is slowly starting to see her family expand, and that to her is one of the most exciting things and it’s a really heartwarming part of the series as well. She’s so excited by meeting me and potentially a new brother and Cathy’s more standoffish. Obviously because she’s snogged him, so she feels shame and embarrassment. That friction is the crux of their relationship in the new series. It adds to our dynamic – it does change the story, but it doesn’t change our narrative.

Is there any part of you that is similar to Cathy? Do you like the character?

Lauren would say that I am Cathy, basically, which is really sad. I definitely think that under pressure I can be like Cathy. I’m a very anxious traveller for instance. I get there like three hours early. I’m also terrible at telling people my inner thoughts. I hope I’m not as uptight and neurotic as her. I don’t know, ask Lauren that question!

Do I like Cathy? I feel bad for her. It’s an excellent, well-observed character. I know so many people like that. The intricacies and the neuroses; it’s so believable. Would she be my friend? Maybe after she’d met Cat and she’d opened up a bit more. Before that, I would struggle. She is annoying and she’s boring, but those are almost the best characters – the ones that have that dry boringness to them because when they’re unravelling, they’re almost more enjoyable than someone who’s a bit looser. I hope in my performance that she isn’t as annoying as she would be if you met her in real life.

We also meet Auntie Dawn, the brilliant Caroline Quentin, this series. What can you tell us about her arrival?

She is mad. And she was in the first series, but this time we go to her house. She is completely unhinged. Where Tess is very stoic and very passive-aggressive middle-class woman, I would say Auntie Dawn is a bundle of joy, and one of those middle-class women who are hilarious and wants to meet everyone and do everything all the time and “ooh everything’s lovely and jolly”, “ooh look at you, aren’t you handsome?!” She has verbal diarrhoea, constantly. And Tess struggles with that. It’s quite nice them having the character difference as well.

Caroline Quentin has always been one of my comedy heroes. In fact, so has Rebecca Front and Siobhan. It’s endlessly joyful to have such incredibly funny women that I’ve looked up to my whole life, not just career, but life. Jonathan Creek was my favourite programme of all time. It was such a dream. She has incredibly beautiful, pointed feet, she used to be a dancer. She has fantastic arches!

It looks like you have a riot on set. How was it filming together? Are there moments where you corpse?

It’s mad. It was full-on this series as we did some night shoots. I’d just had Covid so was absolutely depleted, but it’s endlessly entertaining. Lauren is just so funny as a person. She’s like no one I’ve ever met before. Siobhan is like the cool mum. She’s like my sister really. And she’s so funny. I’d mainly seen her in dramas, she’s such an excellent actress. As a person she’s incredibly funny.

Holly is a comedian and now directing this series and it’s her vision. With her having written it and being behind the camera, it felt like a family, and it felt like she knew exactly what she wanted. And obviously in a second series, you know people more, you trust people more, it’s less intimidating. It just felt like, oh wow, this is fun. This is having a great time with my sisters. Who are all mad.

Interview with Lauren Socha

Cat (Lauren Socha) sitting on the loo
Cat (Lauren Socha)

Lauren Socha plays Cat Walcott

How does Cat feel about the discovery of Callum, her new brother? Does it change the way she feels about Cathy at all?

She’s just happy for anything. She’s so appreciative that she has Cathy, so to have a brother is even better for her. It’s everything that she’s dreamed of. I think she’ll treat Callum the same as Cathy. She’s just happy to have the both of them. She loves her sister a lot and having a brother tops it off for her. She’s just buzzing for the both of them.

Family is hugely important to Cat. Why do you think that is?

I always look at Cat – the character – as a little bit naïve and vulnerable at times. With those sorts of characteristics, you are more open (as a person) and more open to finding a normal, loving life with a family. Family life would have meant the world to her because it’s all she ever wanted. It’s the not the norm for her to have that, so to have that now is just everything.

Do you think there are any similarities between yourself and Cat?

Definitely. One hundred percent. I’m very silly and naïve myself. Even more so since becoming a parent. And I like that, because she’s sweet. She’s not horrible and it’s lovely playing those types of characters compared to some other roles I’ve played. It’s nice to be playing a nice normal girl rather than a crackhead or a prostitute!

You have new cast members joining the gang this time. How has that been? Were days on set fun?

It must be very intimidating to come on set when we’ve all built relationships in series one. Immediately we felt a natural connection – especially between me, Ellie and Chris. It was a natural thing for us all and we all got along great. Michele is wicked. And Caroline, it wouldn’t be the same without Caroline, she’s amazing. Me and her got along so, so, so well. It was wicked to have them all, we all just gelled immediately.

 

I corpse badly. Me and Ellie are completely different people, but we have the exact same sense of humour. It’s always me and Ellie – Ellie can keep it together but I can’t. It’s like you know when you get told off at school and the teachers are like, “stop that Lauren” but you can’t, and it becomes a nervous laugh. It’ll get to 6.50pm when we wrap at 7pm and it’ll be me holding everyone up! The banter between me and Ellie is hilarious, and I think that’s what makes it. That’s why Cat and Cathy bounce off each other. It’s a natural connection we have. She’s one of my dearest friends in the world, but we’re very different and I think that’s what makes the characters work as well.

Cat’s hugely endearing (and very funny) to watch. Do you enjoy playing her?

It’s one of the best roles I’ve ever played. It’s nice to come away from the rude-girl approach and play a normal person. It’s quite refreshing and she’s a very refreshing character to play. It’s wicked to get the lines and see how she would play them. Holly’s been brilliant at letting us have leeway on building our characters and has been very open and creative with us as actors.

What would you like to see going forward for Cat? Not necessarily in series two, but in general.

It would be hilarious to see Cat in a very serious relationship and see where that goes. A pregnant Cat? A labour Cat? Although, you might see Cat do something similar later in this series… just not necessarily with a human.

Interview with Rebecca Front

Tessa (Rebecca Front) leaning on a sports car
Tessa (Rebecca Front)

Rebecca Front plays Tess Walcott

It’s been nearly a year since Tess’s husband died. How is she feeling about everything as we go into the new series?

Tess had an epiphany at the end of series one and she’s let her anger go. So, in series two, we see a much happier, more playful, cheeky Tess. She gets a job, she finds her place in the world, she smiles more.

Can you tell us a little bit about how Tess reacts to the news that her husband fathered yet another child?

I think she’s had to process the shock of the first betrayal, so a second one is almost water off a duck’s back. In some ways, the fact that Colin has betrayed Marilyn as well as herself makes it slightly easier to take. This was clearly a problem with Colin, not with the women.

How is Tess and Marilyn’s relationship?

Tess and Marilyn have settled into an Odd-Couple-style friendship. They really support each other, even though they couldn’t be less alike.

What was it like working with Caroline Quentin as Auntie Dawn again?

Brilliant. Caroline is a powerhouse and just a lovely person to spend time with.

Are there any similarities at all between yourself and Tess do you think?

I hope not. I mean – Tess is huge fun to play, but she’d drive me round the bend in real life.

What’s the best thing about being part of this series?

It’s just so much fun. I love the cast, love the whole team, the scripts are really funny. Honestly, it’s a delight to be a part of it.

Interview with Siobhan Finneran 

Marilyn (Siobhan Finneran)
Marilyn (Siobhan Finneran)

Siobhan Finneran plays Marilyn

Tell us a bit about where we find Marilyn this series.

It’s a year since Colin has died. She has grown quite a bit and is a lot freer than she was in series one. The phrase ‘the truth will set you free’ is probably very relevant to where Marilyn’s at when we find her in series two.

And how does Marilyn feel about Tess at this point?

From Marilyn’s point of view, Marilyn has always known about Tess, so she’s never had to suffer the horrific shock that Tess did – finding out that there’s this other woman that had been in his life for 30 years. She’s never had to deal with that. Marilyn has always known that Tess was there and never thought that Colin would leave Tess for Marilyn. They only had Colin one evening a week so the grief of losing Colin is there, but the rest of the stuff has not impacted on Marilyn the way it has done with Tess.

I think because Marilyn has always known Tess was there and probably has an understanding of how terrible that will have been for somebody. And because she embraces Cathy so easily and Cat is so welcoming to Cathy. I think if Cat was struggling, Marilyn would maybe be struggling but Cat doesn’t seem to be struggling with that new relationship. She’s thrilled with it. I suppose it’s just a connection still with Colin. They’re not at loggerheads as they were in series one, but that’s down to the fact that Tess has sort of accepted that that happened and is coming round to the realisation that Marilyn and Cat are not the devil incarnate.

It’s safe to say she does not take news of the ‘other’ other woman well. What can you tell us about that?

Not at all. She is then experiencing something that Tess had experienced 12 months before. It’s that revealing of another huge secret. I think Marilyn had settled herself with the fact that there was a wife and lived in that world of the – and forgive me now – ‘other woman’ headspace of going, well, I get my lovely time with him, I know he loves me. But to then find out that she wasn’t just the only other one, to try and get her head around that is really difficult.

She needs as much information as she can and the one person that could answer all these questions is no longer there, so they’ve got to set about their own detective work. He’s not there to answer the questions that I imagine any human being would want to ask. He’s just left them all in this incredible mess that they’ve now got to come together and work out themselves. To work out what the hell has been going on. And if there’s another one, there could be another 10!

Marilyn is certainly a character different to any other you’ve acted. Do you enjoy playing her? Do you like her?

I absolutely love her! For me, she is the most uninhibited woman I’ve probably ever played. Even though she’s so flawed. In series one you saw that she’s permanently medicated and can’t go out of the house. All of those things are absolutely horrific for somebody to be dealing with. I try and root it somewhere. All of that mess is now behind her as we start series two. Like I said before, it’s that thing where the truth will set you free. She can breathe again and all of those restrictions, whether they were medical or psychological problems she was having in series one, they’re slowly but surely ebbing away in this series. The doors have opened and as they’ve opened, she’s been confronted with Angela and the fact that he was lying to her as well. I think with Marilyn, the balance she had was that he was never lying to her. She knew what the situation was, and she was happy to go along with that.

What do you think about Holly’s and Pippa’s writing and the direction they’ve taken this series?

I love the scripts. I think the scripts are really, really funny. But also there’s a whole lot of heart in there, which is a treat to get to play. It would be completely and utterly depressing if we were making some kind of documentary because we wouldn’t get to see the funny side of it at all. Whereas the fact that these people are thrown together and are completely opposing families, that’s where the fun is. If we were making a drama, there would be no fun there because it’s actually a completely and utterly horrific situation for anyone to find themselves in.

You have a fantastic cast ensemble. What are the days like on set?

We have a really lovely time, actually. I was thrilled this time round to get to do more stuff with Rebecca because in series one the characters were at loggerheads. So, this series they’ve come together a bit. And the girls are great, Lauren and Ellie are just great fun to work with. It’s a lovely job. And the sun was shining, which always helps!

Interview with Christopher Jeffers

Callum (Christopher Jeffers)
Callum (Christopher Jeffers)

Christopher Jeffers plays Callum

Tell us a bit about Callum and the sort of person he is.

Callum is a young, successful builder/part-time model who we met briefly at the end of series one when he met this beautiful stranger in a pub and kissed her. We pick up from the morning after and get to meet him properly. He’s happy, he’s ambitious and comes from a nice, put together family. He’s an only child. Obviously, there’s the revelation and we see how it affects him and his family and tears that protection apart a little bit. And how he deals with his emotional journey as he moves forward and navigates these two new sisters in his life.

It’s fair to say the news comes as a complete shock to Callum. How does he feel about Cathy and Cat being his new sisters?

It’s an absolute shock to find out you’ve got two new sisters anyway, but the fact that you’ve kissed one of them is a double blow. It’s a bit of a nightmare situation for him. There’s a negative initial reaction, especially being an only child and now having two sisters. But there’s a see-saw because Cat is really keen to get to know Callum. He wants his space a little bit but doesn’t really get the opportunity to have that. Which is probably a good thing for him because he’s never had the chance to deal with anything on this scale before in his life. It’s been interesting to look at that.

Do you think audiences will like Callum? What’s he like to play?

I hope they enjoy watching him and his sisters navigate a new family dynamic and get to know each other. Playing him was so fun and each day on set was a new experience. I was on a horse, or on a quad bike, chopping wood with my top off – so we’re not too dissimilar in that sense! I relate to him as well because we’ve had similar family situations in our lives. I discovered I had four sisters and a brother when I was put in contact with my birth dad nearly four years ago. When I told Holly about it, she was like, “are you joking?!” It was weird reading it (in the script) as I was able to draw from my own experiences. There was some artistic licence for me to be able to add my own bits in there.

You’re the newcomer this series, how has it been filming with the rest of the cast?

The cast, crew and creative team are absolutely incredible. The thing for me, is being put into this female-driven comedy with five incredible women and be inspired by them and to work with them. Siobhan, I massively looked up to and has inspired me and my acting. To work with her was like ‘wow’. The writing is so clever, and everyone made me feel so comfortable. I hope it comes across on camera, it was a privilege to work with such an amazing cast and creative team.

We filmed in your hometown of Manchester. How was that? Did it make the experience more special?

Yes of course. Manchester is the best city in the world! My parents still live there, a lot of my friends still live there so to be able to be there, where I grew up and know so well, was nice. I don’t get to go up often because I’m working in London and away so much. To have a nice block of five weeks up there was great. I felt really lucky. My grandma wandered on to set one day. She was shopping nearby and wandered in to have a look what was going on!

What do you hope the audience takes away from the series?

A lot has gone on – and is still going on – in the last few years and a lot of people have had a tough time, so I do hope this series brings some relief, joy, laughter and escapism for people. It’s a comedy but it does explore grief and loss and the complexities of families, which everyone has to deal with – you know, you can’t choose your family – and we all deal with that in different ways. I hope that resonates to a lot of the audience who follow us on the journey. It’s old-fashioned comedy but it’s got heart, it’s funny, it’s silly, it’s emotive, it’s moving. I hope people find it a joy to watch but also, it touches them.

Interview with Michele Austin

Angela (Michelle Austin), Marilyn (Siobhan Finneran) leaning on a sports car
Angela (Michelle Austin), Marilyn (Siobhan Finneran)

Michele Austin plays Angela, Callum’s mum

So, tell us a bit about Angela and where we find her.

When we find Angela, she is at the top. A self-made millionaire businesswoman who’s incredibly confident, but also a bit of a mess too. She’s not as slick as she could be! I talk to Holly a lot about that thing where you project that you’re really in control, but just out of sight you’re a mess or it’s not quite as it seems. She’s a confident, middle aged woman in love with her husband and thinks she’s got it all, then it all quickly comes tumbling down around her.

What sort of person is she?

She’s the kind of person that I imagine would aspire to be on Dragon’s Den as a dragon! She’s a wannabe dragon, that’s the best way to describe her. Obviously, it’s a comedy and it’s a lot of fun, but we definitely want to think about her being a successful black woman in what must be quite a white male dominated business. So, she’s got to have a level of confidence and hutzpah, which she has in spades. I mean, she might not be the classiest with how she spends her money, you know she’s got quite the house there! But she does have a very bougie lifestyle put it that way, there’s a lot of gold and crystal.

The shocking news is completely out of the blue for Angela, how does she react to it?

Not very well. She doesn’t react very well, because she’s not used to being out of control in a situation. Also, she’s having to deal with the shame of it all because it is completely unexpected for her. She is really determined to get her life back at any cost really.

What does she think of Tess and Marilyn initially?

She doesn’t think much of Tess and Marilyn at all. She’s quite the snob. She does warm to both of them, and probably because she doesn’t have an awful lot of friends. She’s working all the time and I think those kinds of businesspeople probably don’t have as big a social life as they would like. She absolutely adores her husband, and he keeps the house and home together. It’s appalling the idea of not being with him, but also, she’s dealing with the shame of the situation. She’s deeply ashamed and she’s deeply embarrassed by the whole thing. I mean, what would the Cheshire set think?

Do you think we will see friendships develop?

Yes, we do see friendships develop and I think it’s opposites attract. I think she really loves the fact that she’s probably inspiring Tess to be more confident. I think that she thinks she’s really an inspiration to Tess. And she thinks that Marilyn is fun really. She has fun with Marilyn, and they have common ground in music, cigarettes and wine.

The characters you played previously are very different to Angela. Did you like playing her?

Oh gosh I loved it! Because (and I thank all the relevant parties for giving me the jobs in the past) I’ve spent an awful lot of my career in nursing scrubs and uniforms and in sensible suits. I’ve played quite a lot of caring professionals. So, it’s been utterly joyous to be able to put on slightly naff, gaudy clothes and wear lots of really amazing wigs!

I made a decision quite early on that she has a selection of wigs that she wears because she probably doesn’t have the time to be in hairdressers all the time, so I wear some really fabulous wigs. Danielle was amazing at finding really great costumes for me. She also did the costumes for Alma’s Not Normal, she’s brilliant. I loved playing Angela because she was goofy, and I got to do a lot of tripping up and spilling things on myself and choking and the kind of goofy stuff that I do at home. It was a lot of fun.

How does it feel to be joining the cast?

It’s always a strange one isn’t it, because it can be a little bit like going to a new school, you do have that feeling! On the one hand you want to be confident and on the other hand you don’t want to go in all guns blazing with your best jokes and sort of bamboozle them. You’ve got to get to know people. But I was really lucky that we got to do some rehearsals before, so I got to meet everyone then. I have a few friends in common with Siobhan so I knew her. I was incredibly nervous because I think they’re brilliant. But they were very welcoming and sweet to me. I had a laugh and a lot of fun with them. I hit them with some of my best jokes and stories and it was okay in the end, you know?

Do you have any anecdotes from filming?

Oh my god the dog, Tina Turner. The dog was the most extraordinary animal I’ve ever come across. We spent a day’s filming where it felt like all I was doing was trying to push this dog into the bloody car. Trying to push an Irish Wolfhound into a Ferrari was the most extraordinary thing.

We were filming in summer and by the end of the day the dog was quite pungent. Possibly one of the worst days of my career was that the day because we had to film the dog licking my feet. They had to spread Dairylea on my feet because the dog liked it. The next day, when I got back to my hotel room, there was a beautiful package of foot soak and chocolates and lovely, nice things from Holly just to say ‘thank you very much’.

I have to be honest, lots of my things involve the dog. The first day of filming, when unfortunately, Holly tested positive for Covid, she was directing us via Zoom, the dog was pretty lively and was supposed to be sitting still but didn’t want to. That’s also the day I discovered (because I’m not a dog owner as you can tell) that dogs have periods. So, I’ll just leave that one there, it was quite an interesting filming day.

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.

Interview with Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson

Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson in Britney

So what’s the story behind Britney?

Charly: Britney is the very true and very funny story of when I was diagnosed with a large pituitary adenoma  and I moved back to my tiny childhood village to deal with it. Luckily, my best friend Ellen was nearby….

Ellen: Having glamorously not yet left home…

Charly: Right and that is glamorous. So we were able to face it as a duo.

But that sounds like a sad story and this is a comedy.  How did you manage to find humour in such a difficult situation?

Ellen: Well, it was never a conscious decision to find the humour in it. But Charly makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world…

Charly: And Ellen makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world…

Ellen: Except whichever boy you fancy…

Charly: True! And we were back together for the first time in a few years having studied apart, and so it was just a case of ‘let’s have a nice time and try to discuss what’s happening as little as possible’.

Ellen: It was our dream to do comedy together from when we were teenagers re-enacting Smack the Pony and French and Saunders sketches in our bedrooms.

Charly: And we were considering trying to write a sketch show anyway. Then every time we came to write any kind of comedy over those months it ended up being brain-tumour related, because I guess it’s so much of what we were thinking about.

Ellen: Charly’s brain is so weird – even without the you-know-what – so she had a mad way of explaining stuff. Like how surreal it was to be told there was something in your brain you didn’t know was there that needs an operation to get rid of, she explained that to me as like finding out there was a small Welsh town in your brain, whose inhabitants are really pissed off they’re about to be evicted. And every time that happened, I was thinking, ‘This should be a show; how else will we monetise the experience?’

Is the TV show different to your original Edinburgh stage show?

Charly: Totally different, in some ways. In the live show, Ellen and I play all the parts and it’s very, very sketchy. Tonally, we hope the pilot has maintained a sort of wild energy, and the love-story that’s underneath the stage show, but just by virtue of actually having locations and sets and other actors it’s really different.

Your supporting cast includes Omid Djalili as Charly’s doctor and Lia Williams and Tony Gardner as her parents.  Did you have an idea of who you wanted to play the roles?

Charly: We really wanted everyone who you watch in the pilot to take the roles so it is a real dream.

Ellen: The only person I was slightly gutted about was we’d offered Daisy Edgar Jones the role of Charly, but she was filming some sort of Irish thing so couldn’t do it. But Charly does a really good go.

Charly: Omid has been a huge fan of ours for a really long time, we actually taught him everything he knows about comedy.

Ellen: Right. So when he wrote to us begging for what he described as ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’, we thought we’d give this plucky newcomer a chance.

Charly, you were desperate to stay in New York.  Do you think you might ever go back?

Charly: Oh big time! I’m not done over there. I didn’t get to leave on my own terms, I left because of my diagnosis and the fact that the American healthcare system is dogshit but I’ll definitely go back, I’m excited to.

What’s it like acting as yourself?  Did you find yourselves exaggerating your personalities and stories?

Ellen: The good thing about the fact that we’re doing it together is that if one of us does start to exaggerate parts of ourselves in a scene, we can say ‘chill out mate, you’re doing a bit much here’ or ‘actually you weren’t wearing so much makeup or that padded bra for that part of the brain surgery’…

Did writing this programme make you nostalgic for your past?

Charly: Yes and no. It was definitely nice to revisit lots of the jokes and adventures we went on but it wasn’t a barrel of laughs dredging up the medical stuff. Having said that, though, it was very cathartic to look back on everything and choose how to tell the story, it was quite freeing in some ways.

You both seem to find the funny side of the darkest situations. Do you use comedy to get through difficult times?

Ellen: I don’t know if this answers the question, but the first thing Charly did after the diagnosis was put on an inflatable sumo suit and I wrote a comedy eulogy.

Why did you name your tumour Britney?

Ellen: It’s easier than always referring to it as ‘that enormous tumour resting life threateningly close to your carotid artery’.

Charly: Also because a bad bitch brain like mine could only house a bad bitch tumour and Britney is the baddest bitch in pop.

You have a great friendship.  Do you ever fight? Do you ever get on each other’s nerves?

Ellen: Yeah, we definitely fight. We hate to do it, though!

Charly: We always try to make up before we go to bed, even if that means a very late walk and a Strongbow Dark Fruits and a chat.

Ellen: We spend a huge amount of our time together, and often find we’ll be up into the early hours of the morning because we have so much to ‘catch up on’.

Charly: How?! We live together, we work together, we hang out in the evenings and at weekends together. By virtue of spending so much time together and having been best friends since we were 14, it would be creepy if we didn’t sometimes get on each other’s nerves.

Is your friendship exactly as it’s portrayed in the programme or is it exaggerated in the name of comedy?

Ellen: If we wrote like we actually talk, I reckon it’d be unintelligible.

Charly: Yeah, we’ve had to write in more ordinary human speech otherwise nobody would have understood what the hell was going on. The friendship in the show is honestly completely authentic, if anything we’ve had to chill it out a bit for TV.

Ellen: Our only fear is that, in mining the friendship for our careers, are we hollowing something out deep within us?

Charly: But then we think, ‘but it’s the BBC!’

Ellen: And we’re instantly soothed.

Interviews with Greg Davies and guest stars in The Cleaner

 

What can viewers expect from The Cleaner, and why should they tune in?

The Cleaner is a comedy about a man who has made it his job to mop up the horrible aftermath of crimes and accidents. To Wicky, a bloodbath is just an obstacle between him and his next pint. Each week he attends a different ‘crime scene’ and meets a new character associated with whatever had happened. Each episode is totally different the only constant being a man with an everyman curiosity and a determination to leave things spotless. It’s also very silly at times and I hope funny.

I think it’s a unique show in that the cleaner is the only constant character. The bizarre life events that have led to him being called unfold differently every week, and he finds himself in strange situations talking to people he has no frame of reference for.

This is a departure from your previous writing style, how was that for you?

Each episode is generally a two-hand ‘play’. I mistakenly thought this would be easier than writing for multiple characters. It is not! It was nice to just focus on Wicky and the person he encounters each week though. It’s a challenge to make them rounded and to give context to the dreadful events that have led them to be spending time with a crime-scene cleaner.

Do you see any of yourself in Wicky, are you a bit of a gossip?

Oh I’m even nosier than he is, but I generally don’t get access to crime scenes. He gets to dip in to bizarre lives, which I’m a bit jealous of to be honest. He also likes a pint and his friends are the friends he has had for a very long time, which is true of me.

You attracted some brilliant co-stars for the series. When you were writing their episodes did you have them in mind, and how was it working with them?

I didn’t dare imagine that people like Helena [Bonham-Carter] would say yes, so I just wrote them, but the scripts certainly evolved once the parts were cast.

Each of episodes are stand-alone with a new case and new people, did you have a favourite and why?

It’s such a cop out answer but I genuinely didn’t. They are all so different and each actor brought new and brilliant things to the part.

Having played Wicky, how good do you think you would be at cleaning up a crime scene now?

As anyone who knows me will testify, I would be the worse crime-scene cleaner on the planet. My home/car regularly look like crime scenes because of my incompetence in the field of domestic work.

Are there any funny anecdotes from filming you can share?

I generally laughed a lot through the series. There was one incident I would love to tell you about, but for now I am sworn to secrecy. Until I establish how much the actor is prepared to pay me not to tell you.

If you ever met a real crime scene cleaner what would you ask them?

I’d apologise and then ask them if we can get together and design a more breathable SOCO* suit for a fat middle-aged man working under lights.

*Scene Of Crime Officer

A word from Helena Bonham Carter

Sheila (Helena Bonham Carter), Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies)
Sheila (Helena Bonham Carter), Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies)

How was it working with Greg Davies?

It has been brilliant fun working with Greg and the team on The Cleaner. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Sheila, one of the eclectic (and sometimes murderous) mix of characters that ‘Wicky’ comes across during his gruesome but necessary work.

Before this job, thanks to my children, I knew Greg as the really tall man on Taskmaster, but now I know that not only is he genuinely very tall but he is also a brilliant writer, and as nice as he is funny. And he has a lovely mum.

David Mitchell Q&A

Terence Redford (David Mitchell), Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies)
Terence Redford (David Mitchell), Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies)

Tell us a bit about your character in The Cleaner, and what attracted you that the role.

I play an irascible and self-involved writer apparently oblivious to the gory family tragedy that just happened in his living room. When I read the script, the character’s lines really leapt off the page as immediately funny and speakable. That’s extremely rare, so I was immediately keen to be paid to say them on TV.

What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you?

Breakfast. On location filming shoots, there’s always a fried breakfast available at the start of the day and, having not done any location filming for ages because of Covid, I felt justified in really tucking in. The whole experience of filming a funny script in a house for a few days was such a lovely return to pre-pandemic life all round. We were shooting in April and it was one of the first things that made me believe that life really could get back to normal.

How was it working with Greg Davies?

Excellent all round. He’s an extremely funny and talented man, but also really good company. I was really chuffed that he wanted me involved with the project.

If you ever met a real crime scene cleaner what would you ask them?

What’s the best way of getting blood splatter off a tapestry seat cover.

Ruth Madeley Q&A

Helena (Ruth Madeley), Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies)
Helena (Ruth Madeley), Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies)

Tell us a bit about your character in The Cleaner. What attracted you to the role?

Helena, my character, is a very proud vegan. She’s proud of her vegan life, and she’s a very ballsy character. She has so much about her, and I personally absolutely love her dry wit. She doesn’t suffer fools and is very aware of who she is and how she wants to live her life.

He’s going to get such a big head after I say this, but the pull for me, mainly, was Greg. We’ve followed each other’s work for quite a while and he was definitely on my bucket list of people who I would love to work with. Also, the fact it was a comedy as well – I do so much drama, and doing an out and out comedy role was an absolute dream. Ican’t think of anyone who I’d want to do that with more than Greg, I was very honoured and very flattered to be asked.

Reading how the character develops in the scripts, and how funny it was, was the icing on cake. It was funny on paper but then it’s even funnier when you are interacting. I loved the fact it was just us two and loved that set up. It was such a nice way to watch Wicky with different characters and to see how he navigates through the world.

What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you? 

That’s such a hard question, there wasn’t one day where I didn’t enjoy it. I loved the big comedic scenes when Wicky jumps over Helena, I genuinely cannot wait to watch it on screen. Or the bit where they are really bonding when they are having a cheeky spliff – it’s just those moments and the little nuances that are really funny.

Our last day on set was when Greg was in the wheelchair, and he had to do a race, and I’ve never seen anybody so exhausted in my entire life, it was so funny to watch! He said, “How do you do this every day, it’s such hard work!”

I can’t think of one thing that wasn’t enjoyable. The team behind the camera was wonderful, a brilliant group of people working on such a fun project. There wasn’t one day that I didn’t want to be there, and I was very sad when it ended.

How was it working with Greg? 

His writing is so clever – the way he puts a story together, and the way he constructs characters, he was an absolute dream, he really was. And there was so much comedy, but he was very sensitive to making sure it was told in the right way. There was also no crassness. There was no, “let’s just throw a disability joke in here for the sake of it”. It was really clear he wanted to make sure it was funny, but also not offensive, and he was a bit of a genius like that.

People often think they can’t make certain jokes about disability, and Greg kept saying, “I want to get this right, I don’t want to upset or offend anybody”. If people are asking those questions it’s a good sign, that they want to get it right. The way he wrote the script and the way he created the character was such a beautiful way to tell the story of every single disabled person who has a non-disabled person constantly thinking about saying the right things and saying the wrong things. 

It genuinely was such a wonderful experience to be able to hear Greg’s thought process around that, and as well as the BBC and Studio Hamburg UK, they really wanted to make sure they got it right and they absolutely did. Every day on set was hysterical, and it was a lovely way to do it, because you could tell that production really cared about representing disability properly but in a really funny way. We need that and the world needs that, especially when we are living in such chaotic times – we just need some out and out comedy! I think Greg’s writing is incredible, and, let’s face it, his acting’s not bad either! He is a wonderful person to work with. 

Are there any funny anecdotes from filming you can share?

The days always started on such a wonderful note in the make-up truck, every day I would say “are you alright?” he’d go “I’m knackered, I’m so tired” – he’d be writing until God knows what time and he would say, ‘I don’t know any of my lines!”, but every day he had me in stitches.

There was a woman who came up to him when we were filming in the park, and asked what we were filming for, Greg replied it was for a BBC One TV production, and she asked him if there was anyone famous coming, and Greg replied “Nah”’. It was the most satisfying moment for me on set, honestly it was so funny, and it was just hysterical, he had a crowd of children watching him and laughing at him trying to race a wheelchair.

If you ever met a real crime scene cleaner what would you ask them?

Everybody who knows me, knows I am a little obsessed with crime, I will watch every crime documentary going, I would probably have a file full of questions for them. I think I’d ask: “what’s the most random body part you’ve had to bag up at the end of the day?” I’ve watched so many things online about crime scene cleaners and one of them said they had to put a human ear in a bag and I thought, goodness me, what a strange way to earn a living!

Stephanie Cole Q&A

Vivien (Stephanie Cole), Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies)
Vivien (Stephanie Cole), Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies)

Tell us a bit about your character in The Cleaner. What attracted you to the role?

My character Vivien is a frightful old woman, and she’s not a very nice lady at all! She doesn’t care about anyone else, is very selfish and very upmarket. I loved the craziness and the over the top-ness of it – not that we played it over the top, but I think they are all stories that are huge fun to read and to watch.

I had the most wonderful stunt double who did an extraordinary job. They so rarely get praise for their work, and I think the public don’t realise what an amazing job they do.

What attracted me to the role was working with Greg again, who I’d worked with several times and always enjoy hugely because I think he is terrific. It is a wonderful series, and the writing is good, Greg is wonderful and the whole team were absolutely fabulous. It was great fun to do!

What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you?

The most enjoyable part was working with Greg again, which is always a huge delight because he is great fun and he also takes the works very seriously and is extremely good and is a joy to work with. When you do television it is very rare you get somebody who’s not very nice, so it’s usually an absolute joy, but this was joy upon joy because Greg was wonderful to work with and indeed so was everybody else, all the crew, we did laugh a great deal.

I’ve worked with Greg several times now, and I just love it, he is so good at what he does. He is meticulous and great fun, and he appreciates your input. He is just a lovely man.

Are there any funny anecdotes from filming you can share?

I remember it was a very cold day when we filmed with the Aston Martin. It was in the garage, and Greg was in there with the car and I was stood outside and I remember thinking to myself, “there must be an easier way to earn a living”. I also did a lot of laughing when I kept throwing myself over the sofa, we had a giggle about that. The overall feeling was one of great pleasure and fun.

If you ever met a real crime scene cleaner what would you ask them?

Oh, I think I’d have a million questions about how they would go about it, and if they had watched The Cleaner, and also ask how similar a real crime screen cleaner is compared to Wicky in the show.

Layton Williams Q&A

Paul Wicky Wickstead (Greg Davies), Hosea (Layton Williams)
Paul Wicky Wickstead (Greg Davies), Hosea (Layton Williams)

Tell us a bit about your character in The Cleaner – what attracted you to the role?

My amazing, beautiful, talented lol character ‘Home Alone Hosea’ is an influencer and is social media obsessed. He got left by his parents in a big house all by himself when he was younger and he became an internet sensation. But with that of course comes a lot of tougher moments because he didn’t get to see or do much in the real world.

This is why I think the relationship between Hosea and Wicky is so amazing, because they are two very unlikely friends, people you wouldn’t think would get along but they do. But Hosea has a really good heart and by the end of the episode you feel for him and realise he is a good kid. He thinks he is doing these things for the likes on social media, but comes to understand that life is not about the double taps.

When I read the script I remember thinking, this is a bit of me. I kept reading and reading and it was a time when I was taking a break from everything because of the pandemic – theatres were closing and I was free! So it was amazing having a whole episode as a guest ‘star’, even though I don’t like to call myself a star! The line-up is iconic! I mean if Helena Bonham Carter is getting an episode, I wanted one!

When I went to my chemistry read with Greg I saw a medic who was getting all hyped, and I knew they had a story to tell that they wanted to get it off their chest, so I was like, “go on what do you want to say?” and they said “I just had to put a swab down Helena Bonham Carter’s mouth!” I was like, “OH, what’s she doing here?!” and then I realised she was in the cast too and I was like, oh my God!. I am so excited to see everyone else’s episodes and I’m just really privileged to star alongside such a stellar group of people. 

What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you?

The location – it was unreal. The crib we were filming in was iconic, it was all very eco-friendly and everything was self-serviced by natural movements of the light. I don’t know the science behind it, but it was lit and I was really bouncing around the place as if it was mine. Every day was a new fun experience. One day we are on space hoppers, another we are on bicycles, I know it sounds weird, but I don’t ride a bike very often so it was so much fun. Next thing you know we are playing sports games with bats! We were really put through our paces but it was so fun and I was constantly surprised by what was going on in that moment. I beamed all week!

I also loved the costume, the make-up and the set designs – the team was a whole bunch of huns, we were all on the same page and it all just pops on the screen! 

How was it working with Greg?

Working with Greg was iconic – he is an absolute star, and such a lovely guy! You never really know what people are like when you see them on TV, we all put on a persona when we have to, but he is just amazing. We were laughing so much on screen and off screen, and had an absolute lol, we’d be singing all day, it was an absolute pleasure. He was really patient and open to letting me try different things and if I said “Can we try it like this?” or “I think the kids would like this”, that’s not me thinking I’m young, but if I thought something might work he’d say “Yeah go for it!”. So we had lots of improvisation moments which I hope make it in! 

Are there any funny anecdotes from filming you can share?

It was so much fun spraying the jam, even though I did some accidental sprays when I shouldn’t have. I did a pirouette with the syringe in my hand and said “Oh my God, maybe I should try this” and I literally squirted the blood the whole way around the room and it was a clean squirt! I thought, oh no, what am I gonna do! So they had to make me repeat the squirt a few days later for continuity! It was amazing, but don’t go running round doing pirouettes when you are squirting blood because things will get dirty! 

If you ever met a real crime scene cleaner, what would you ask them?

I would ask. “How do you sleep at night?” because I would be traumatised! When I walked in and saw all the blood, it made me feel sick even though it was fake! So ‘How do they turn off from work life and not think about the dead bodies they’ve been cleaning up all day?

Jo Hartley Q&A 

Paul 'Wicky' Wickstead (Greg Davies), Maggie (Jo Hartley)
Paul ‘Wicky’ Wickstead (Greg Davies), Maggie (Jo Hartley)

Tell us a bit about your character in The Cleaner – what attracted you to the role?

I play Maggie, the one that got away. Wicky’s first love and long-term ex-girlfriend. She ran off, married another man, and became an artist, of sorts. Wicky never got over Maggie, she comes up in conversation throughout the series. She’s sassy and ambitious. I turn up in episode six, let’s just say it’s an unexpected reunion. Oh, and she hates blood.

What attracted me to the role was Greg, his hilarious script, the people involved and Tom Marshall [director], who’s super talented and a long-time collaborator.

What was the most enjoyable part of filming for you?

All of it! We had a lot of fun, we filmed in an old cottage in the countryside. Myself and Greg star in the episode, it’s a two-hander, so it was great to just jump in and challenge myself.

How was it working with Greg?

Superb, he’s truly wonderful and very very talented – down to earth, funny and very smart. Never met him before but always admired his work.

If you ever met a real crime-scene cleaner what would you ask them?

Do you take your work home with you?