"This type of friendship hasn't been seen because not enough people are being let through the door to create these characters. I love that we've hit on something with Big Boys that a lot of people can relate to."
Written and created by Jack Rooke, Big Boys was THE comedy hit of 2022 as we were introduced to Jack and Danny, played by Dylan Llewellyn and Jon Pointing, two boys from very different ends of the “spectrum of masculinity” who become best mates at Brent Uni Freshers Week 2013 and now after multiple award wins and nominations for six more glorious episodes.
When they meet in series one, Jack is a dweeby, sheltered, closeted boy from Watford, trying to overcome grief after his dad’s passing as well as figure out what he actually wants in life, whilst Danny is a typically loud and proud lads’ lad, trying to live out a lost adolescence whilst confronting the demons of his own mental health.
In this series, Jack and Danny return, together with the whole gang, and find themselves in their second year at Brent University 2014, where alongside dealing with virginity hang-ups, drug experimentation (both legal and otherwise), and Jack’s obsession with Alison Hammond, this time round their degrees actually count!
Meanwhile, Jack’s family continue to navigate their lives after his Dad’s passing, beginning just as much of a new chapter as the gang at university. And Danny gets to revisit his past as he learns how to better deal with his mental health issues.
Aside from Big Boys, Jon Pointing is no stranger to a hit comedy on television, having starred in several, including Plebs, Pls Like, Starstruck, and more recently, Smothered. Ahead of the new series, I caught up with Jon to speak about the reaction to series one, Danny's ladness and friendship with Jack and so much more.
First of all, congratulations on the first series. One of my standout shows of 2022. Incredibly funny, and hits the nail on the head with its cultural references.
Thank you. We were just saying, I think a lot of people, which happens a lot in comedy, some people go "I don't know if people are going to get this. It's too niche. Or it's too obscure. It hones in on one bit of culture." But I think it makes it better. Sometimes when you're watching an American show, you don't know what they're talking about, but you still find it kind of funny.
As a result of the streamers, some television now can feel like it could be set anywhere to appeal to a global audience. Big Boys is as British as it comes and all the better for it, I think.
I agree. I hope we move back to wanting that sort of thing. I hope people are going to want more localised, more authentic and of-a-place stories. If you're ever in a writer's class, people will say "It's a made-up place, it's here, but it's not there" and you're like, "No. Where is it?"
How surprised were you, by the overwhelmingly positive reaction to series one?
I never expected it to be as it was. It's a first series. It's a new thing. There are a lot of new people in it. It felt really good to make and often sometimes things feel great but that doesn't mean anything when people watch it or don't watch it.
I was just really pleased that whilst we were making it, it felt quite special. We all really got on and felt it was really important story to tell. I know it's a comedy, but there were a lot of important things in there that we wanted to get right.
For Jack (Rooke) as well. Jack's on set and that really helps set the tone because the source of it all is right there. It's a collaboration and once you give it over, it takes on its own life and I think he (Jack) really loves that part of the process too.
Did the reaction to series one add extra pressure for series two?
Maybe. I definitely wanted to make sure that we deliver again, but mainly I wanted to savour the experience. The first time is a bit of a blur. You're getting on with everyone. But it's all still quite new. And this time, I really wanted to not wish this away.
Because once you start filming, it's so stressful. The hours are long. It's a madness. But, with this one, it'll be gone one day, so I wanted it to last as long as possible and enjoy every moment.
Let's go back to the end of series one, then where there was a shift in tone, especially surrounding Danny. How did you prepare for those more emotional and meaningful scenes?
It's a difficult one. You do get yourself into a certain zone. You do try and get yourself into a specific place and I think everyone got the memo. Everyone on set sort of understood the nature of it and all the other actors were amazing around it.
I guess it's the first scene of that nature that I've ever done, really. It's a hard one to articulate. It's a challenge. It's definitely a harder thing to achieve. Sometimes, actors use recall or think about their own personal experiences, and I think that can help a bit, but I think you've got to be careful you don't take yourself out of what's going on.
In the same way that, if I can really laugh at something in a scene, at someone's joke, because I genuinely in that moment, find them funny, The same is true for those other scenes. You have to really feel that this is sad and painful, through the character as opposed to anything else.
What was it about Danny that initially attracted you to want to play him?
Well, exactly what we've just been talking about actually. Being able to subvert that character, that trope, that laddy comedy character which I've played versions of and get a lot myself.
I have this running joke with my wife that for years, every audition I got, the character would say the same things "Are there going to be any girls there?" - that was just a default line for someone eager to get his end away.
And people do see me that way. When I was growing up, I was definitely the softer of the lads, out of the group I hung around with. I don't really see them anymore but in my circle of friends now, I'm the lad.
Don't get me wrong, I think Danny is a lad and doesn't mind the fact that he's a lad. But that's just his environment and the worlds he's grown up in. I can understand that. And I think sometimes, when there is a void of certain things, you fill it with a kind of performance or character.
I think an outgoing, happy chappy is probably a great disguise for someone who's really suffering. And that's often the case.
So that. And Jack. I met Jack (Rooke) before I'd read anything and I saw his show, which I think anyone who'd seen his show would agree, I thought "Wow, he knows what he's doing." And because we'd spoken about it and the reason he wanted me to do this part, that's what you hope for in a collaboration. You meet someone who gets you in a way that often people don't. That's all you can really ask for, I think.
I also think it's refreshing to see a male friendship like the one Jack and Danny have in Big Boys, on screen. Why do you think we don't see it usually?
I think it's because there's a lack of representation in the whole business. And that's behind the scenes as well. The writers, the producers... for example, a producer might be like "No one's going to believe that this bloke and this gay guy would be best mates" - but it's like, who's saying that? Because if it's a straight guy, who doesn't have any gay friends, then chances are he shouldn't be answering that question.
This type of friendship hasn't been seen because not enough people are being let through the door to create these characters. I love that we've hit on something with Big Boys that a lot of people can relate to.
This is just the beginning. This is just the tip of the iceberg. With Big Boys, people are like "Oh yeah, it's mad that I've never seen that before because it's part of my life." or "This is my brother. This is my best mate."
These things are right in front of us and I think all too often, with TV especially, there's this fear of doing things that aren't on so it repeats itself all the time because that worked last time. We're just regurgitating this stuff that is often not even true.
End of series one, Danny won his appeal to go back to University. So where do we find him at the start of series two?
Year two counts. Everyone's realising that they've actually got to do some work this year. Whereas first years everyone just charges around, getting drunk, saying "It doesn't matter. It doesn't count."
So second year, Danny is on his meds, and he's a bit more stable, which means he's able to achieve things he wasn't able to in the first year. He's making up for lost time. He can get hard-ons basically.
On that note, at the start of series two, we learn that Corinne met a boy over the summer. So where does this leave her and Danny?
It plays out throughout the series really, Danny and Corinne. So I don't want to say too much. But that's another lovely little storyline. I love acting with Izuka (Hoyle, who plays Corinne), she's amazing. Again, there's a tenderness and a sweetness to it, so it's not the usual will-they-won't-they or whatever. They really care about each other I think.
What else can you tease about Danny in this series?
Series one started with a flashback of Jack's life and now this series starts with a flashback of Danny's life so you see him as a child. You get this context to Danny and we see some of his life before uni and partly why he is where he is, I guess.
I have to say, the actor playing the younger version of Danny in those scenes really does look like you.
Do you think? Yeah, I never met him. And, there's a scene where his mum and dad are having a blazing row and that's my sister. So she gets a little cameo!
What are some of your favorite scenes coming up this series?
Anything where we're together as a group and we're bouncing off each other. I love that stuff. There's a scene between Camille (Coduri, who plays Jack's mum Peggy) and Danny, where they're having a spliff. It's such a little moment but I love stuff like that. Anything with Camille is just the best.
And I had some amazing scenes this time around with Olisa (Odele) who plays Yemi. They were incredible this series and so funny, just excellent.
What are you enjoying watching on TV at the moment?
The last series I watched was probably Succession. I mean, incredible. And because I loved it so much, I've started watching Peep Show again. You know what's so funny about Succession is that there are lines that these people are saying, shot in this beautiful way, where I'm like "That's a Mark line." or "That's a Jez line." The lines in Succession are so funny. I love that show.
Otherwise, I watch telly. Whatever's on, really. So I watch The One Show, Grand Designs and A Place in the Sun. Obviously, I love TV and there are lots of shows that I love and I watch, but I also love that it has this ability to help me switch off and watch a bit of Bake Off.
What's next for you?
Smothered is out now and I'm really happy that's been received really well. I've just wrapped on Sweetpea which will come out at some point on Sky. And also Queenie on Channel 4, I'm in that. Hopefully that'll be out in the early months of the year. But I'm having a big break at the moment. It's been a really good year, really fun.
Is there anything you'd you love to do that you haven't had the opportunity to do just yet?
There's lots. Probably not yet, it's probably too early now, but I'd love to try directing. I write as well, so I'd love to see a show through from conception to getting it out there. I'd like to write something, and I'm working on that now. I like the whole process and being involved in the whole collaboration.
Big Boys returns Sunday 14th January at 10pm on Channel 4