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I TALK The Wrong Mans (Series 2)

Thankfully after a successful first series, the BBC decided to green light a second series of The Wrong Mans which will air over two consecutive nights this Christmas on BBC Two.

Whilst the first series was formed of six half-hour episodes the second comprises of two one-hour Christmas specials and both James Corden (Phil Bourne) and Mathew Baynton (Sam Pinkett) are back.

The second series picks up where the first series left off, Sam and Phil are different and have changed as people because of everything that has happened to them. This time around the stakes are higher than before and if at all possible, there's even more danger.

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited along to a special screening for the first of the two episodes that make up series two, and it did not disappoint.

The first series looked great, but I think this series looks even better and when I was speaking to James Corden he said that there was only one man to thank for that, and that was Jim Field Smith who directed the first series and has also directed the second series. Well... well done Jim it looks incredible and it was a real privilege to be able to watch The Wrong Mans on the big screen as it lends itself so well to it.

Corden admitted that he's a bit shocked when people describe The Wrong Mans as "high-end comedy. It's a credit to Jim that that's the case. I don't think this costs a penny more than an episode of Waking The Dead."

Field Smith spoke at the screening about how The Wrong Mans is "...still a show that made on a BBC2 comedy budget, with some additional investment from Hulu. It's not even close to being a drama budget, so we have to figure out ways to be inventive. Unfortunately we couldn't film in Texas, but the BBC have been filming a few shows in South Africa; Our Girl and Bluestone 42 and actually we got a lot more from shooting there than if we had shot for real in America!"

Of course, what makes The Wrong Mans brilliant isn't just the way it looks, the writing was so strong in the first series and yet again in the second series, and that's all down to Baynton and Corden.

Yes on paper it's a comedy thriller, but The Wrong Mans is much more thriller than it is comedy and Mat Baynton told us how "We don't really write jokes generally. If things pop up that seem like jokes they're by accident in a way, because we are more drawn to details, or character traits that make us giggle. Where it wouldn't work is if we were putting setup and punchlines in there."

Talking about the fact that series two will be shown at Christmas time and is set at Christmas, James Corden revealed how he's "...a massive fan of the British tradition of having Christmas specials. I think they are a joyous thing. Some of my favourite TV moments have been in Christmas episodes; The Royle Family Christmas specials, The Office Christmas specials are as close to perfect as specials can be."

He went on to reveal how "In all of the episodes we wrote of Gavin & Stacey, the Christmas episode is the one that I am most proud of. I think there's something very very nice about being part of that Christmas scheduling."

So why set the second series at Christmas and how did it fit with the story? Well, Mat Baynton told us how they were "...writing a homecoming story. Then it came about during that writing process that we would probably be doing this for Christmas time and it was just the perfect fit."

Jim Field Smith added that "Christmas is about coming home, so regardless of whether you're religious or not, one theme of Christmas is going home or being home and being with family so it seemed to suit this story particularly well."

When I asked James and Mat about whether the very positive reaction to the first series made it harder or easier to write the second series, the answer from Mat was that "I guess if anything for me it was slightly easier because you know that there is an audience that like these characters, and the tone of it."

James told me how in his head they "...weren't making a second series of the show. It's two more hours of the same story so I think that helped. We also didn't have a massive gap between writing it and shooting it and starting plotting it again sop you're just carrying on the story which I think helped very much, as opposed to sitting down and going - "Right, series two. Where are they?" - so I think psychologically that helped a little bit more."

Talking about the possibility of a third series Mat Baynton alluded to the fact that James Corden is about to head off to America to host The Late Late Show "So if we did, it would have to be after a pause." to which Corden replied "It might not be very long... (laughs) It's going to be a disaster. The show (The Late Late Show) is going to be cancelled in no time! So yes, is the answer. We will be back making another series."

But all joking aside, Corden wondered "How long before it becomes too much of a caper? If a story presented itself to us I would love to do some more. I think we're more interested in the prospect of writing something else and that might be The Wrong Mans, or that might just be something else."

Whether there's a third series of not what James and Mat have created with the first series and now the second series is five hours of brilliant television, and different to a lot of programmes that are currently on television. It's fresh, it's exciting and it keeps you watching right through to the end.

Oh and finally, I can't say much about Bertie Carvel's character, but do keep an eye out for Nathan Cross, as Carvel puts in one hell of a performance that will keep you glued to your screen.

The Wrong Mans airs Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd December at 10pm on BBC Two


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