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I TALK TO Joel Fry & Ryan Sampson

I caught up with two of the stars of Plebs, ITV2’s first sitcom in ages. Joel Fry plays Stylax and Ryan Sampson who plays Grumio.

Plebs is the first sitcom for ITV2 in a very long time, last one being FM starring Chris O'Dowd back in 2009 and do you know what? It's bloody funny. Starring Tom Rosenthal, Joel Fry and Ryan Sampson. The first episode is called 'The Orgy' and the second features Danny Dyer as a Gladiator. Genius.

So what exactly is Plebs about? Well, it follows three desperate young men from the suburbs as they try to get laid, hold down jobs and climb the social ladder in the big city - that city being Ancient Rome in 27BC.

You three seemed to get on really well on screen. Can the same be said off screen?

Joel: Yeah.


Ryan: Yeah. We're very lucky. We're like the Power Rangers. We've all got one individual thing, we're all going in a different direction. There's Lydia who's like the loving actressy one and then we've all got our niche (laughs). 

What first attracted you to the role?

Ryan: For me, it was that they let me do that in a sitcom. Like... it's ridiculous. I went to the audition dressed like ridiculously with these dark eyes and everything, because if they just see me as normal then they'd think it's just stupid to do that. They were completely up for it, they were like "yeah, he can be a big character. And we can write him that way." 

And in this sort of thing you don't normally get that overlap. I think it's because it's in Ancient Rome that it allows it. Imagine that set today, you wouldn't be able to go that ridiculous with it. A bit like Baldrick perhaps? (I tell him that a few people have said that). "Oh shit. Well... yeah alright yeah.  

Joel: It's been a while since Blackadder was on though? 

Ryan: (Laughs) Yeah. I've not stepped on his toes. 

Joel: He's not going to be like "Hey! What are you stealing my stuff for?" (laughs).

What is it about Plebs that just works then?

Joel: It's a good script isn't it? I think it's the script. I think it's the script. 

Ryan: I think, I really like comedy that's got a bit of warmth in as opposed to it being a bit too... especially more offbeat or like culty comedies, tend to be a bit exclusive. 

Joel: Yeah, that's a good point. 

Ryan: I mean a lot of my favourite comedies are those types. Quite dark comedies. But you don't leave them feeling like you want to be part of that world. 

And I like this (Plebs) in that you can. like for example my all time favourite comedy is Spaced and you absolutely want to be in that. It's very culty, but they've managed to create a world that you want to be a part of. 

And I think that is so rare to have an edge to the script and a kind of kookiness ...oh that's a horrible word! But do you know what I mean? "Zany?" Kinda "Crazy". These guys are crazy (both laugh).

How do you feel about the comparisons between Plebs and The Inbetweeners? Having seen it now I have to say it is different.

Joel: Yeah. I think it is different. I think for one there's more characters in this, the girls. That (The Inbetweeners) is all about the guys really isn't it? In this you get guys like Danny Dyer coming in, it's like they've got more options with this. It's a city... 

Ryan: There's more depth to it. I think there's quite a - I mean I know obviously it's done incredibly well for everyone basically - but it started off as quite a low key humour. And I think this (Plebs) has a much broader audience initially.

Plebs is ITV2's first sitcom in a good few years. Did that make an impact at all?

Ryan: It was the same in many ways, in terms of what you're actually doing. Except for, I can see how much they're behind it and how much they've backed it. This for example that we're doing now (Press Screening), a lot of sitcoms don't get this.  

Joel: Sweary. 

Ryan: Sweary? 

Joel: It's quite nice to swear.  

Ryan: Actually yeah. The edges are rounded off on a lot of things. A lot of channels can get scared, and start really taking the edge off things and I did not feel like that was a thing with this at all.

What was it like working with Danny Dyer?

Joel: It's good. It's cool. No it really was, he's really nice. 

Ryan: I mean seriously... the man is a living legend. 

Joel: He's got a lot of charisma. You feel lie you know him before you even meet him weirdly enough. 

I actually got a bit nervous at first and that usually doesn't happen. But I was kind of like.. "Oh. Hello mate. You alright?'.

Ryan: Also, when you watch him. That man is an incredibly good actor. He started out because Pinter loved him.  Like he's a proper actor and people have slightly forgotten that, because of the direction he's gone down.  

So what's next for you two then?

Joel: I'm going to do some more Trollied (Sky1) right after this. And a play called Public Enemy. 

Ryan: I'm doing Up The Women (BBC Four) at the moment and then I'm doing my first musical later on in the year.

Plebs continues Mondays at 10pm on ITV2


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