"The idea of being in a murder drama is an absolute no-no for me ... it's so important to bring light into people's lives."
After a successful first series in 2021, Bloods, the hit comedy created by Nathan Bryon and Samson Kayo and written by Nathan Bryon and Paul Doolan is back with the first part of its second series.
The comedy, about a gang of eccentric paramedics working in South London, sees Samson Kayo and Jane Horrocks return as odd couple/dream team paramedics Maleek and Wendy. And this series, they find new sources of conflict when they are involved in a malpractice investigation and Wendy's deeply irritating son starts work at the depot.
Elsewhere, best friends Darrell and Darryl are faced with the prospect that their bromance might be at an end, Kareshma has started to mellow under Gary's watchful eye and team leader Jo continues to carry a flame for widower Lawrence whilst having her authority challenged by counsellor George.
Ahead of the new series, which returns Wednesday 16th March on Sky Comedy, I caught up with Jane Horrocks to find out more about what's in store for Wendy, what it's like working with Samson and if she'd ever do The Masked Singer or act in a serious drama.
First of all congratulations on series one. What has the reaction been like?
It was fantastic and the result was series two which is always an indicator that it's gone down well. I didn't watch it myself. It's actually the first time I decided not to watch myself because I had such a good time making it, I just wanted it to be a memory. I wanted to remember it as it was.
I'm so nitpicky about my own performance that I didn't want to be nitpicky about this. I just wanted to remember it. I think that was a good decision.
Have you had much contact with paramedics who have watched the show?
No, I've not actually! I know Samson (Kayo) has had lots. Maybe they don't think I'm very good as a paramedic!
Has playing a paramedic in Bloods changed the way you view them?
I do notice them a lot more and I've noticed that the ambulance drivers are mostly female actually. I don't know whether that's a thing they're trying to push at the moment, but whenever I see an ambulance driving by, it's invariably driven by a woman. So that's good!
But anyway, Wendy's not allowed to drive the ambulance. Maleek has to drive it.
How would you describe Bloods for anyone who may have missed the first series?
It's a comedy-drama about paramedics and follows the lives of four pairs of paramedics and the dynamics of how each pairing works.
I love the pairing between Wendy and Maleek. Unlikely on paper, but it works, doesn't it?
It does. It's a little bit like a mother and son relationship. She does want the best for Maleek and he resists her guidance a lot of the time, but then realises that she might be right.
How do you see Wendy?
She loves life, does Wendy. She's a very positive person. She sees the best in people and likes fun. She likes sex. She's just up for a good time and lives life to the full.
Maleek talks about living life to the full and isn't. Wendy walks the talk, definitely.
A big change for Wendy in this series is the arrival of her son Spencer, played by Nathan Foad, who turned up at the end of series one and appears to be here to stay.
Yes, he is very much a part of series two and it's not great for Wendy. But she deals with it in her own brilliant way. She never really gets cross with him - and he is incredibly irritating. You absolutely understand why Wendy has fled the nest and gone to make a life for herself in South London.
He's cramped her style enormously. Quite a bit of series two is about Wendy trying to think of ways to send him back to Nottingham!
We know that Wendy wants to start dating. How does that go for her?
Well, in series one we learn that she goes for men with big hands. I think she likes quite macho type men. I think that's who she goes for. We don't actually see her having any dates in this series.
She had a fling with the air ambulance guy last time, but we don't see her in a relationship this time. But she talks about flings that she's had!
What are some of your favourite scenes to film?
I like all the scenes with Samson, obviously. Some of the scenes between me, Samson and Nathan Foad who plays Spencer are really great fun. Especially the ones on the road. I think the ones on the road are the ones that I like the most. When we're going out to see different patients and encounter different scenarios, that's what I like the best.
I love the scene right at the start of series two where Wendy and Maleek are singing Mr Brightside. Was that scene a lot of fun to shoot?
We'd been given the song the night before because they were trying to clear rights for certain songs. So I think it was going to be something else but they'd decided on Mr Brightside and neither of us knew the song particularly well. I'd heard it but I didn't know the lyrics.
I like to get a bit more notice on things like that - but anyway, neither of us could remember the lyrics properly. So there was genuine corpsing and I was trying to muddle my way through really.
Bloods doesn't shy away from big set pieces, does it? The car crash in series one, the digger in episode two of this series...
Not having watched any of it, I don't know what it looks like but I'm told that it looks fantastic and really credible. That big car crash in series one was amazing. The set design was superb. The same again as you say, with the crane.
The prosthetics as well for the injuries are just very very realistic. I'm squeamish so when we see the damage it had done to the guy's legs, I was looking away and I knew it was prosthetics!
It looks as though you and Samson have a lot of fun working together. Is that the case?
Oh absolutely. We do. It's really easy and natural. A natural pairing actually. You always dream of finding that when you're acting and it really has happened with me and Samson. It's lovely. When we're not actually working with each other - when we've been paired off with other people, we kind of pine for each other and are always so glad to be back together.
Samson's on his phone all the time and I'm endlessly interrupting and saying "What do you think about this?" - or "Who's that you're looking at? Do you know him?"
Wendy and Maleek learn a lot from each other in the series. What have you learnt from Samson?
The biggest thing I've learnt is to not be precious about things. Doing the scenes and letting them go and not thinking about them afterwards. That's what Samson's great at. Being in the moment. He's not worried about scenes coming up. He doesn't talk about scenes that we've done, so I think that's a very healthy way of working. I've learnt a lot from him.
Katherine Kelly joins this series as George, the ambulance station’s mental health counsellor. What does Wendy make of her?
Well, Wendy loves George. She thinks she's fantastic because Wendy does think it's a good idea to talk about issues you've got.
Although Maleek and Wendy don't have a lot of scenes with George. We have group scenes, but we don't have any individual scenes with her. Which is a shame, it would have been nice to have had more with her actually.
Any scenes we should look out for?
Samson and I went to an all-girls private school - well, our characters did - to do a workshop on knife crime. Maleek thinks he's going to a rough, tough, inner-city school, so he's very disappointed that it's actually a very middle-class private girls' school.
There's a rap involved. Wendy's doing a rap which Maleek actually takes over and takes the lead. It has very funny consequences! I loved doing that scene and that day actually. It's a really lovely, bright, light day which was lots of fun.
Speaking of singing, lots of people thought Mushroom on The Masked Singer was you. What did you make of that?
There were a lot of mentions of me on Instagram and Twitter, so I watched a little bit of it and I thought she was a much better singer than me, Charlotte Church. So I thought "That is definitely not me, because she sings so much better than me!" It was quite funny seeing all the tweets and not responding to any of them until the end.
Is The Masked Singer a show you'd ever do?
Well, I was asked actually for the first series but I didn't want to do it. So no.
Well, their loss is comedy's gain. It must feel good to know you're making people smile and laugh with the work you do.
Absolutely. It's great to cheer people up. The idea of being in a murder drama is an absolute no-no for me. It was a no-no. But it's an even bigger no-no now because I think it's so important to bring light into people's lives. And bring cheer.
It feels good making those sorts of programmes because you have a laugh doing them. But also, if you know that you're giving your audience something that lifts them, then that's an even bigger bonus.
What have you been enjoying on television recently?
Well at the moment I've been watching Toast of Tinseltown, it's so good. I love it! I love things like that, which have real defined characters. All the characters are so individual and hilarious. I love the writing. But I didn't watch the first series, so I've started watching Toast of London now.
Bloods returns Wednesday 16th March on Sky Comedy