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I TALK TO Hugo Chegwin

"To be honest, I just want to make cool shit that I like."

Dave's latest original comedy Sneakerhead, stars People Just Do Nothing favourite Hugo Chegwin alongside Lucia Keskin, Mark Silcox, Francesca Mills and Big Zuu in his first acting role.

Set in the fictional Peterborough branch of discount sportswear store Sports Depot, Hugo plays Russell, the conflict-averse, newly appointed manager whose people-pleasing sees him struggle to balance his friendships with Mulenga and Amber, with his newfound responsibility. Luckily Sports Depot stalwart Edgars is always on hand to offer sage advice.

As the series goes on, Russell is tasked with moving on the thieving youths who hang around outside and Amber attempts her first sober day at Sports Depot all whilst Mulenga deals with a housing crisis.

And in the final episode of the series, when Mulenga gets in a scuffle with a customer and the incident goes viral, Russell faces his biggest managerial challenge yet, firing his best mate.

I recently caught up with Hugo Chegwin to talk all things Sneakerhead including how the series came about, his involvement and trainers (of course). Plus, he tells me why he believes the end has come for Kurupt FM.

Since People Just Do Nothing, you've carried on acting in The Curse and now Sneakerhead. Did you ever think this is where your career would go?

Not really, no. With People Just Do Nothing, I don't think any of us did it to then make a TV show. We just started to film sketches on a phone, just for us. Seapa was a serious rapper and I seriously wanted to be a producer, at 19. That was life.

I think I have Imposter Syndrome massively. I just feel lucky. I think people are insane. What? Are you sure you want me to do this?! Really?! Even when I'm asked to write an episode, I can't write. I attempted it on The Curse and it didn't really work. Steve (Stamp), Tom (Davis), James (DeFrond) and Seapa basically helped me but I just gave it to them.

How did Sneakerhead come about?

There's a guy called Alex (Smith, Head of Scripted) who works at Roughcut and he had the concept of a show set in what was basically a Sports Direct. Because I've worked in retail and Sports Direct is probably the most ratchet of all of them it could probably work. You get people genuinely going into Sports Direct for sports equipment, but then there's all walks of life who go in there. You get everyone.

We spoke about how we wanted the show to be quite a lot. Aesthetically and visually, what I wanted was insane. I wanted Atlanta. And I think we've found a good compromise. I just didn't want it to be another sitcom, that's what scared me about it and I think we've landed it well.

What in particular scared you about being "just another sitcom"?

I think there's just so many of them and they're possibly a bit dated. A romantic sitcom solely set in one location, it just doesn't feel fresh anymore. I like things that are different. To be honest, I just want to make cool shit that I like.

You mention that you worked in retail. Where was it that you worked? And did any of your experiences influence Sneakerhead?

I worked at Foot Locker in Ealing Broadway. I was there for about four or five months. It was really hard work.

But yeah, I sat down with Gillian (Roger Park, Writer) and the producer, Steve Monger, who's amazing. I love him. He's just really untalented in comparison to me! Nah, I'm joking. He's sick,

When I was 19, the girl that I was seeing broke up with me and she worked directly opposite in Miss Selfridge and that was in an initial script for Sneakerhead.

How would you describe your character, Russell?

He's just a loser. A guy that's overstayed his summer job and prolonged it far too long. Stuck in the cycle of work, sleep, repeat. That kind of thing. He has a toxic relationship with Claire. It's not really a relationship. I don't know what it is. But you want to see him win. I hope you do anyway.

He becomes manager early on in the series, is that a role he enjoys?

I think he does enjoy it. I think it gives him a bit of purpose and relatably, I think everyone has been in that position of being in a job that they're unsure if it's for them. Questioning if it's something they want to do forever.

And what's his relationship like with his father?

His dad is, I guess, a grown-up loser. Which is sad, because I do see that. Childhood people you've grown up with who are now 37 and still at home playing computer games all day. Smoking weed all day. As fun as that is. As sick as that is. There's got to be a balance to it.

You can do that, that's fine, but can you afford it? Unfortunately, when you get to a certain age you have to start earning money and looking after yourself and the people around you, lie they did for you when you were younger.

This is Big Zuu's first acting role and I think he's brilliant in Sneakerhead. Did you offer him any advice?

Not really. I spoke to him about it but to be honest, he's better than me! He knew his lines. He knew where he was at with the storyline in every scene. He's great. Super professional. Super talented. BAFTAs. Rolex's, I mean.... they're gifting him sofas now! He's killing it.

You filmed Sneakerhead in Croydon, did anyone mistake Sports Depot for a real shop?

Yeah, people used to come in all the time and browse. Even though we had serious security but a set's very busy, people in and out so people would get in or knock on the doors.

Croydon's reactive. In some places where you film, when people see something being filmed, they look, and then off they go. In Croydon, it's ON. They're in the background, doing shit, messing about. I quite like that.

What were some of your favourite scenes to film?

All the stuff with Zuu and Spike, the shoplifter kid. And all the scenes with Fran (Mills) although they didn't keep my responses in, probably because they were too violent.

Have you got a favourite pair of trainers?

No! I've got loads, to be honest. It's sickening. I like Wallabees at the moment, I've sort of given up on the trainers. Any Air Max 95, any Air Max 1... that's a massive lie! Any original Colourway Air Max 95 or Air Max 1, I'm down. I only wear OG Colourways, I don't wear Jordan 1s.

Looking at social media during filming it appeared as though you all really got on and enjoyed the shoot. Is that fair?

Yeah. It was sick on set. Just good vibes. Super fun. I didn't force it either. I didn't insist that we had a good vibe. Zuu and Lucia (Keskin), regardless of me, when they first met each other it was immediate that they were friends. Super natural.

Me and Zuu have crossed paths and he's got great energy so I get on really well with him. He's a super nice guy and I feel like I have quite a lot in common with Zuu, even though we're from two completely different worlds. It was effortless.

I could tell you something that went wrong... whenever people were asking what we were filming, because - and I don't know why I do this - I guess I think it'll stop them interacting, I tell them we're doing a reenactment of a paedophile ring.

I did it in Croydon and I asked this guy if he wanted to be in it and he got really offended. Then we were shooting a scene inside and he comes back, and he knew someone that Zuu knows and I thought I'm literally going to get the shit kicked out of me.

What are you hoping people are going to make of Sneakerhead when they watch it?

I just hope they watch it for longer than 10 minutes. I mean, you've got every fucking TV show ever made in the world available to watch.

What do you enjoy watching on TV?

I like to watch shit documentaries about cruise ships, and bargain Brits abroad. I love that crap. But I also love Curb Your Enthusiasm, US Office, English Office - all of those things. I've just watched Stranger Things. I thought that was sick. It's dark. It's scary.

Oh and I'm watching Obi-Wan Kenobi. I thought I'm not into any of this crap, but I smashed through Star Wars and that in lockdown. I became a Marvel and Star Wars don. It was just hectic. Return of the what? Then I got Disney+ and it said 'Timeline order' and I was like, yeah.

What's next for you?

I am doing something... but I can't say. I don't know why. No one gives a shit. But yeah, I'm doing that.

You're currently on tour with Kurupt FM. What's next for that and People Just Do Nothing?

After this, it's done I think. This is just my opinion, but it's in a good place now and we were fortunate to be a part of the first YouTube generation of I guess, YouTube comedians. It's evolved.

But I guess we weren't part of the 15-second generation - and this isn't throwing any shade on anyone, but Mo Gilligan, Munya (Chawawa), that's the new wave of comedians. And that's really fucking hard to be funny in 15 seconds.

You've also got the likes of Bad Boy Chiller Crew and what we tried to do, they're doing it their own way and bigger. So it's time for those guys to do their thing. It's time for the next generation to show what they can do.

I think we were lucky that the BBC allowed us to do what we did. We're fucking mad lucky. I'd like to see what the new generation is. I feel like - and not us - but we are part of the changing of this old, I guess, upper class, thinking that you can only write comedy if you go to Oxford or Cambridge.

Also, not us, but this new generation can do what they want, put it on YouTube and get paid way more than these guys (TV) are offering. The tables have turned a bit. You want a certain demographic, a certain age group to watch TV and you need the likes of Chunkz and those guys. They don't have a TV show. They don't need one.

For us, YouTube was just a way of us showing to a couple of mates what we were up to. That's all that was. Then we got lucky.

Sneakerhead starts Wednesday 13th July at 10pm on Dave and continues nightly with all episodes available at launch


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