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I TALK TO Pappy's

I recently spoke to Pappy's to find out all about what to expect from the new series, who their comedy heroes are and what they make of the decision to move BBC Three online.

If you're a fan of live comedy then Pappy's will need no introduction, and likewise if you caught the first series of Badults on BBC Three last year you'll know exactly who Tom Parry, Matthew Crosby and Ben Clark are.

In case you don't, they're a comedy trio who have been nominated twice for Best Show at the Edinburgh Festival (2007 & 2012), and have won the Chortle Award twice for Best Sketch Performers (2008 & 2013).

Luckily, when they took their comedy to TV last year with Badults on BBC Three, they were just as successful as 2.1 million people tuned into the first episode in the first week of transmission. So it's no surprises really that a year on, they're about to launch their second series of Badults, kicking off with a World Cup special.

Let's go back right to the start, how did Pappy's first get together?

Tom: Well, me and Ben were childhood friends and I've known him since we were about 10, so we grew up together in Wolverhampton. Then I went off to University in Canterbury and met Matthew there and we started performing comedy together. Ben and I have always done youth theatre together and we started writing our own play together back in Wolverhampton and then we all met and liked working together. It kind of went from there really!

Live comedy is how you guys started, how did the sitcom come about?

Matthew: Basically the sitcom was something which we started working on in 2009 and we pitched it a variety of times to the BBC and it kept getting knocked back and then eventually we pitched it through a production company called Comedy Unit in Glasgow, which is where we film it, and as soon as they came on board it all happened within a couple of months.

When we were commissioned we were halfway through a run at the Edinburgh festival, where we got nominated for the main award for that show. So it really was, a terribly exciting month where a lot happened, really really fast.

How did you find the transition from performing in front of a live comedy audience, to a live TV studio audience?

Ben: Yeah, it took a lot of getting used to. I think actually when we watch the first episode back we can really see ourselves working out which camera to be in front of, because there's that weird thing where obviously you're in front of a live audience but you're meant to look at the cameras first, and I think it's something that we learnt on the job.

Which is why I think by the time we finished the first series we were really keen to go again because it felt like we'd learnt so much in such a small space of time. So that's why we were so excited to get a second series. And hopefully people will see that we got better at doing it. (Laughs) I hope that's the case.

The first series performed really well in the ratings. Why do you think people took to it so well?

Tom: Well I like to think because it's just very silly fun. We always try and make comedy that's escapism really - comedy that's just silly and have a laugh. We have so much fun making it and we'd like to think there's so much joy for us doing that hopefully people watching it pick up on that a little bit. It might be that there was nothing else on and they were waiting for Family Guy! (Laughs).

For those who haven't seen Badults before, how would you best describe it?

Ben: Three idiots who live in a flat together and it's very big, knockabout, silly adventures full of jokes.

Matthew: It's silly capers that we get involved in. Yeah, like Tom said, it's just pure escapism really.

What about the title, Badults? Where did that come from?

Ben: We were just knocking about ideas for a title and we were trying to think of a funny way to describe who we are in the show and it just came out as a fun phrase.

And then we kind of thought -"Oh that must've been used that phrase. It must be something that people use" - and then we googled it and there wasn't any use of it, so we were like - "Oh OK, we'll have that". It was Tom's idea, he came up with the title but when we heard we all immediately went - "Yes of course. Brilliant." and I think it's served the show very well.

How similar are you in real life to your characters?

Tom: I think they're exaggerations of who we are in real life. We always start based in reality, but I think the actual characters are exaggerations of who we really are. But they are kind of in line with our personalities.

You couldn't have made a more timely first episode. With the World Cup just around the corner, the first episode sees you struggle to find somewhere where you can actually see the match. Is this drawn on personal experience?

Tom: I think it's a problem a lot of people have. I mean unless you've got a definite local, where you know you can go, even your favourite local isn't the best place to watch the sport.

I can definitely remember the year it was in Korea, and it was on at very odd times and trying to find the right place to watch a World Cup game was a real problem. Especially when you're looking to be there for 9 o'clock in the morning. (Laughs). Hopefully it's a problem a lot of people appreciate.

We wanted to write an episode based on watching a football match, and obviously we remembered the Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads episode - we didn't watch it when it first went out, but it's one of those things in comedy folklore, and it's the perfect episode, them trying to avoid the score. So we watched that and thought - "Wouldn't it be good if we were to write the invert of that?" - where instead of trying to avoid the football, we're desperately trying to watch it.

Matthew: It was good to write a story that had a sense of adventure to it. It's a proper Badults adventure in that it's like a sort of quest for the holy grail, except it's a very mundane thing - trying to watch something on the telly. A very normal thing take on epic qualities. That's what we try and do with all the shows we write - be silly and simple and then it becomes enormous!

How did the Robbie Savage cameo come about in the first episode?

Matthew: We just asked! We just sent a pitch to their producers and went - "Here's the script." Actually, the original script was a little bit ruder and they said they wouldn't do it and we said - "Alright, alright, OK. Don't say you won't do it, we'll write a less rude version of the script and you'll do it." - and they just shot it before they did Football Focus.

Ben: That was such a buzz for us. We weren't even there for it, we still haven't met them. We've invited them around to watch the first show.

Tom: Yeah, it was such a buzz for us because we didn't see it until the night of the recording and they played it in, and just to suddenly cut to a real-life Football Focus, and see them talking about us was genuinely so exciting. (Laughs).

Robbie Savage isn't the only familiar face in the series. Katherine Ryan is in this series, what can you tell us about her character and who else can we expect to see in this series?

Matthew: She's a series regular, she plays the new office manager, Lucy, and my kind of love interest. She's so brilliant because she kind of just comes in and she's more of a badult than we are. She was wonderful to work with. She's super funny.

She's a very different character. What we tried to do with Katherine's character is that we tried to make her who rather than telling me off constantly, she's almost worse than I am. SO that's kind of what we wanted to do with that character.

We didn't want to just re-write Rachel 2. We had a lot of fun writing that Rachel character (Emer Kenny), but this gave us the chance to write someone with a new personality who brought a different sensibility to the show.

We've also got our new neighbours who move in, and they're played by Mike Wozniak (Man Down), David Reed (It's Kevin) and Gemma Whelan (Game Of Thrones) so yeah, it's just nice to have our pals get involved.

What else can we expect from the new series?

Tom: Well I think we tried to be a bit more ambitious really, so we've got one episode that kind of becomes an 80s sports movie, we've got one which kind of becomes a James Bond style adventure... we tried to take big themes and really go for them.

We've got a real-time episode, where we've only got a certain amount of time before we have to go off on holiday, so it's all set in the flat, counting down before the taxi leaves. So each episode I think, brings something different to the series and we set ourselves big exciting challenges for each episode and really pushed for them. I can't wait for them to go out really. We're really excited about it.

Flat shares are so common in comedy - Why do you think that is and were you ever worried that people would be put off by another flat share sitcom?

Matthew: I think the thing is, that the sit of 'sitcom' is pretty universal. The thing about flat share is that everyone at some point have had to live with other people, even if it's just their parents. So I think it's one of those things that never goes away.

What we've tried to do is not write a sitcom about how hard it is to live with other people, so there's no like - "Who ate my cheese?" and "Why don't you clean up the shower?" The show is about the relationship between three pretty dysfunctional best friends.

Ben: I think that what we've found is that the more unusual you make the 'sit', the more you have to work on explaining things. Whereas what you really want to do is just get on and be funny. So if you've got a very familiar simple 'sit', then all the comedy can be whatever you want it to be. It's a bit more of a blank canvas setting it somewhere familiar because no one's questioning why they're in a flat.

How do you feel about the comparisons between The Young Ones and The Big Bang Theory? Did any of those shows inspire you as you were writing Badults?

Matthew: Absolutely! We love The Young Ones. What we tried to do was our version of a silly flat share sitcom and I think the first series really had a similarity to The Young Ones, I think the second series is much more our show. The first series we were testing several things - "Will this work? Will that work?" - whereas for the second series we had a much clearer idea as to what we wanted to do.

So it's much more now, 'Pappy's do a flat share sitcom' - rather than alluding to The Young Ones or something like that.

Who are your other comedy heroes?

Tom: I would say Harry Hill is one of our massive heroes. Right from back in the day when he was doing his stand up, he's always done his own style of being funny and never changed that, and let people come to him.

When he first started out, quite a lot of people were like - "What the hell is this?" (laughs) and even when he had The Harry Hill Show on Channel 4, it's taken him so many years for people to now just accept how funny he is. I think he's never ever changed what makes him funny, and I think that's so brilliant.

Matthew: Vic & Bob we really like. We think they're brilliant. Badults and House Of Fools are coming from the same place.

Again it's a flat share sitcom where they don;t really care about the fact they're in a flat. It's just an excuse to do really really silly things. That's what I love about Vic & Bob, they'll work out what they think will be funny and just do it.

With the news that BBC Three is to move online from Autumn 2015. What do you think about that decision? Will you be up for moving online yourselves?

Ben: It's a strange one really, because when it first happened it felt like - "Oh my god this is the end of the channel!" and I think to a certain degree, it is a shame because they do so well at promoting new talent and getting new comedians on the telly, so it's a shame they won't actually be on the telly.

But then at the same time, so much of BBC Three's audience watch telly on the iPlayer so actually it may turn out to be progress. We'll find out I think when it happens, but it might turn out to be a good thing, as long as the amount of programmes they make doesn't change. Even though it's going out online, I think these days increasingly that's how people are watching television, so fingers crossed it does turn out to actually work.

Matthew: We feel very lucky that 'acting like idiots' is our job, so if someone comes along and says - "I want to do a show for online and would you be part of it" - of course we'd love to do it. We obviously can't believe that this is our life! We're very very lucky to have got as far as we have.

Badults returns Monday 2nd June at 10pm on BBC Three


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