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I TALK TO Ryan Sampson

Last month, ITV2 announced Glitchy, a brand new comedy series from Plebs star Ryan Sampson.

Described as a "fast-paced, sketch prank hybrid”, the series will see Ryan Sampson parody television shows by throwing them into a surreal and parallel television world.

When I announced the news on the site and on Twitter, it received a huge response, so a few days later I simply had to catch up with Ryan to find out more about the series.

When I revealed news of the series, the reaction on Twitter was incredible with lots of messages of support for you. Were you surprised by that sort of reaction?

It went down really well. I was really chuffed. You go about doing what you think is funny, but then when other people were going “I’m really excited that you’re doing a series”, I didn’t realise I had that sort of backup I suppose.

Without wanting to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet, it feels really nice to know that you’ve got people who are telling me that they’ve been waiting for more stuff from me. It’s been a  really nice surprise.

I’m really pleased, I thought I was just making this for me! (Laughs)

How did Glitchy come about?

What I love, is making characters, and improvising in characters. I grew up on Sacha Baron Cohen, all of his characters, Alan Partridge and even Mrs Merton! I love people who can improvise in character. It’s a skill that I find just so fascinating.

So I wanted to do that, and not that many people are doing it at the moment, apart from my dear friend Tom Davis (Murder In Successville), he’s one of them. But not many people are and I wanted to showcase that.

We’ve got three incredible comedy character actors on board, Colin Hoult, Ellie White and Gabby Best. We need these sort of new character actors, because I’m not seeing much of that on television at the moment.

That was a starting point, and then also I love all of Charlie Brooker’s stuff, I love the idea that you can use a show as a platform to sort of rip the piss out of what TV is at the moment.

I’m quite a trash TV addict, if I see Alex Polizzi in the title of any show, I will watch every single episode. Anything with a spiky woman going round to people’s houses and telling them their business doesn’t work until they cry, I just think is amazing! (Laughs)

So we’ve got these big characters but we wanted to up the ante a bit, by placing ghtem in the real world, in the same way that Ali G or Borat is. We wanted to put them in the world and show that they are fully rounded characters basically, who can react and cope with any situation.

What was that like as an experience, improving with the public?

For me, it is the most fun thing. Because you can’t know where to go, and so all you have to do is fall into it, hope you’ve got a strong enough idea of the character, so that you know where they will go in any situation.

I’ve heard about Steve Coogan’s process from people who have worked with him, and the amount of prep you need to do to be a character who can stand alone in its own right and walk off the page makes it that little bit more exciting.

You must have had some great reactions from the public?

Yes, we’ve had shows where I’ll be a sort of inept presenter, and then a real person who saw me as a real presenter of the show, took me to one side and said “Bruv, bruv, bruv. I’m not being funny yeah, but you need to get yourself checked out man. I think you might be having a nervous breakdown."

That was really sweet actually, this guy Dappz who we had, was looking after my instincts.

How did the public react when you let them in on what’s been going on?

Well that’s not part of the show. What we’ve got in the show is almost as if you were tuning in to bits of TV shows, you’ll see a bit of Tyra Banks on our spin of America’s Next Top Model, you’ll see a bit of a Dynamo type show with a street magician called Mezmo, who is clearly just a petty thief.

When we did kind of tell them at the end of it, it’s weird because they take quite a long time to adjust, because you’ve spent the entire day with someone being hopefully, a pretty watertight character. So what you have to do is ease them in gently and reveal bit by bit, “I’m not really Welsh”,  that’s the first one, then “I’m probably 10 years younger than you think I am” and reveal it over the next half an hour. Otherwise it’s a bit of a shock!

How does the sketch show/prank show hybrid work?

Well, they’re all sketches but within that there are some that have real people as the backdrop, and there a few that don’t. So more often than not, these characters are in the real world.

But the real people are very much like the props to our characters. Instead of being an Ant & dec style, “Look at what we’ve done” sort of thing, it’s more like watching The Real Housewives of Cheshire, and they go to a cocktail making class, and the cocktail maker happens to be a real person, who absolutely buys into the whole thing, and tries to calm us down and stop us ripping the shit out of each other.

When you’ve got these characters that exist in the real world it gives it that extra oomph I think. It’s a bit of a genre mash-up.

Remember when we were younger, and there was a lot on TV that defied genres a little bit. Initially, we were watching a lot of Brass Eye, to see how they did their stuff, and you can’t really pin down what that is exactly. It’s not quite a sketch show, it’s not quite a parody, because they’ve got bits with real people involved.

So we wanted to create this kind of hybrid show, and I’m really glad that the channel have let us get away with doing it, because it’s properly weird. It’s quite out there I think.

You play a woman quite a lot in the series?

Basically yes. We’ve got a Real Housewives parody, which is called Real Jockey Wives, and I play a Jockey’s wife, and I do NOT make an attractive woman. It pains me to say this but I really really didn’t. My dad says that I look like a dumpy Lesley Joseph! (Laughs)

Do you have a favourite character at all?

Yes, there’s this character who’s got bleach blonde hair and is a sort of failing nineties boyband member who is clinging on to the fame of his one and only album that did well. He’s dining out on his relationship with Melissa Joan Hart ten years later, but he’s also very obviously an alcoholic and really repellent to English women.

He’s got his own dating show and is trying to each English guys how to have a bit more swagger, but that sort of LA schmooze just doesn’t work on the mean streets of Reading. It’s likely to get you glassed. (Laughs)

There’s this bit where he tries to serenade this hen party, with his 1998 top hit and they’re all just glassing him and kicking the shit out of him.

You’ve filmed the whole series now right?

Yeah. All done. I’m going to go and do a little spot of editing and then I’m going to Bulgaria to do Plebs.

Thank God for that. I was expecting Plebs around this time of year...

We like to keep you waiting you see. It’ll be out at the beginning of next year I think. Plebs has got a real confidence about it that I really like, and I’m really pleased that a lot of people watch it.

Apart from my Nan and Granddad who think it’s frankly pure filth. I tell them it’s got a lot of historical references in it so you learn something, but they don’t buy it. Occasionally they’ll watch it with the sound off!

Glitchy begins Tuesday 6th October at 10pm on ITV2


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