top of page

I TALK TO Ross Noble

Following a successful first series, comedian Ross Noble is back for a second series of Ross Noble Freewheeling, his random Twitter-powered anti-travelogue.

Once again, Ross dons his helmet, climbs onto his beloved motorbike, opens up Twitter and puts his fate entirely in the hands of his followers who decide where he goes, and who he meets.

It's this unpredictability that made me really enjoy the first series. You never quite knew where Noble was going to go next, or who he was going to meet, but you kept watching anyway in the hope that something vert entertaining would come out of it, and more often than not, it did. I recently caught up with Ross Noble to find out a little bit more about what we can expect from the new series. Here's what he had to say...

Congratulations on securing a second series of Ross Noble Freewheeling - How did the series come about in the first places?

Well, thank you very much. I did it online originally, because Triumph Motorcycles had their 500,000th bike that was coming off the production line, so they wanted me to ride it around Britain. So I decided to ride it around Britain and then auction it off for charity.

So originally the idea was to do it just for a laugh, and instead of setting a route we decided to use Twitter and then while we were doing it all this weird stuff started happening. We thought it would be geographical to start with, where we should go, which route we should take.

But then people were saying things like - "If you're in Chester, go and see Bob Carolgees who owns a candle shop." - so we turned up and realised there's all this weird stuff going on that you never would find out about if you sent a team of researchers out to try and find. It's not normally the sort of thing you see on telly you know.

Whereas somebody tweeting in "I'm off to a court appearance" - it's all spur of the moment stuff, so you couldn't plan that. If you did try and plan it, it'd just because the normal stuff you see on a TV show.

So we filmed that, put it online and then Dave saw it and went - "Well, there's a show" and with a bigger budget and a bigger crew, we've got about 15 people in the crew. The obvious thing to do would be to do it just on one videocamera, but because we've got a proper set-up, it's that mixture between something that has been knocked together but with high production values.

Do you like the unpredictability of the show? The way you don't know where you're going to be from one moment to the next...

Oh yeah! It's brilliant. I don't know how much the crew members feel about it though. For example, when it's 5 o'clock and we're still filming and we need to get 15 people accommodation and you're in the north of Scotland that's when things can get a bit problematic.

But for me it's brilliant. Because the thing is, the way that modern telly is made, it's made by committee. It's the sort of thing where if someone comes up with a mad idea, by the time it actually gets on screens, it gets filtered or people start to go - "That might not work." Once you start planning things out, they start to lose that spontaneity you know.

The people that are into this show properly love it. If something doesn't work, we don't pretend that it has. We just sort of go - "This isn't working" - but that usually leads to something more interesting. Because you go, let's now make the show about where we've ended up.

For me , that's where the show is at its best, because that's something you don't normally see on telly.

Are you ever scared about where you might end up?

The fun of it is, you don't know where you're going to go or who you're going to meet!

People ask me all the time - "Is it not scary not knowing what's going to happen?" - and the way I look at it, is that's what's exciting in life. That's what I look for. If someone tweeted me and said - "We're a bunch of jihadists, and we want to take you hostage" - I'd be like, let's not!

You must get quite a lot of tweets, especially after the first series. How do you decide where do and don't go?

Basically, it's 100% based on my mood. So it doesn't become repetitive, I sort of changed the idea behind what we're doing this series. There's an episode where I just say - "What is there not enough of on telly?" - and I got this really long list of really bizarre suggestions.

The thing is, people try and second guess us as well, so go - "This will be good for the show", so I wanted to avoid that as well.

For example, someone tweeted me saying - "Go to Lands End, sit in a box, and I'll tell you when you get out." So you look at that and think, well that's miles away so that would be ridiculous to take the whole crew all the way to Lands End, but then you go... oh, let's just do it! Because that's funny.

What's the weirdest thing you've been asked to do?

Well it's all pretty weird. Somebody said they wanted to see taxidermy... but at an intermediate level! (Laughs). They didn't want expert taxidermy, they wanted it at an intermediate level, so I asked if anyone does taxidermy, but it has to be at an intermediate level.

So I ended up on a barge on the thames, basically stuffing a dead mouse for a woman who teaches taxidermy but specialises in mice. It was probably the hottest day of the year and there I was cutting open a mouse's stomach and stitching up a mouse! So yeah, that was pretty weird.

Somebody else said they wanted to see bread jousting, so originally it was meant to be on motorbikes, but if we did bread jousting on a motorway we could have been arrested, so we got some cycle couriers instead, and jousted people with baguettes!

When you go up to people and go - "Do you want to do some baguette jousting? - of course they want to do it. Nobody goes - "Oh let's do some baguette jousting today" but when they're asked, they go - "Well it wasn't on the top of my list but YEAH!"

What else is coming up in the second series that you're really proud of? 

In episode three, somebody tweeted me saying - "Don't come to Northampton, it's shit" - so we did a whole episode about Northampton. And randomly two of the crew met the head of Northampton council who agreed to let us put up blue plaques around Northampton.

So we got dinner plates and painted them with people's names, for example Robert Llewellyn Bowen who we actually got to to turn up and we had a ceremony.

And then Alan Carr, who was born up there, couldn't make it so what we do is get the head of the council to do it as if Alan was there and then two weeks later I got Alan to do it on a green screen!

What we've done a lot more series is that you meet people along the way but what I've done, which was a logistical nightmare, but I think was worth it, is sort of bring people back. We go back and visit people throughout the series.

I don't want to give too much away, but basically I meet a guy in the Isle Of Wight who I send off on a mission right to the top of Scotland to deliver something to another one of the people that I meet so there's this sort of parallel storyline where later on they get involved with someone else... so they're all standalone episodes, but I wanted to explore the story of what happens.

Ross Noble Freewheeling returns Tuesday 24th March at 10pm on Dave


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page