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I TALK TO Sean Michael Verey

One of my favourite comedies at the moment, certainly on BBC Three, is Pramface which returns this week for a third run and I caught up with one of my first ever interviews, Sean Michael Verey.

I've seen half of the new series already, and it's fair to say the standard has not dropped and I'm really pleased it's back.

Last time we spoke you said the last series had been left open for a third, and here we are talking about series three. How did you feel when you heard the news?

Oh, I was overjoyed, it was great. It was what everyone wanted and what everyone was hoping for, and what everyone thought we'd deserved actually. We put a lot of hard work in and we were all very proud of it.

And that's right down to the crew as well. We use a lot of the same crew, as we film up in Edinburgh, and even in downtime like lunch we'd be talking and they'd say how much they enjoy working on it and hope it comes back for a third - "See you all again next year!" - that kind of thing. So when the news came through, as you can imagine, we were absolutely delighted.

You touched on it then, but after three series of Pramface, are you a very close-knit team? Is it fun during filming on set?

Yeah, we really are actually - I know it's a bit of a cliché and very luvvie for actors to say - "Oh it was like a family" and stuff. But actually, if I'm being honest, I've never really had that with anything else.

You have it to a certain extent, but with Pramface, it really has, like I say, because we've had a lot of the same crew from day one, and the same producers, it really has felt like that. It's definitely the best thing I've ever worked on in terms of a real friendly atmosphere on set and when we're up there (Edinburgh), we go for drinks with a lot of the crew. It's a real genuine fun atmosphere you know.

The show has a great fan base online and everyone who watches it seems to really enjoy it, but yet Pramface appears to still be under the radar. Why do you think that is? If you do...

Yeah I do agree, there's that kind of feeling all the way through production actually. I think that there can be a snobbery towards BBC Three. And if you look back on BBC Three's history, they've had some great stuff; Him & Her, Gavin & Stacey - I think there is a lot of snobbery where a lot of people think that if it's not on BBC One or BBC Two, then it can't be that good, and it's probably a very young channel.

And OK, BBC Three sometimes do advertise themselves as young and bright and vibrant and loud and I think a lot of the older audience members will see that straight away and are turned off... maybe.

What was the reaction like then when Pramface did get repeated on BBC One and went out to a slightly older audience?

Well yeah, that's what I was leading on to say - that's very funny because we had a lot of viewing figures from that. Very good viewing figures actually - especially for the time slot. It was like 11 o'clock on a Friday night when a lot of people are out. That's where actually, a lot of the older audience members had seen it because I was getting tweets from younger people saying - "Oh Pramface is being repeated again. Love it. Forced my mum and dad to watch it on Friday night with a takeaway" - that sort of stuff. And then from that they were saying how their mum and dad love it.

And that's where I was getting a lot of comments from older people such as my mum and dads friends going - "Oh I finally managed to watch Pramface, because it was on BBC One." A lot of people don't want to change. They're watching BBC One on a Friday night and they'll just keep there. Or they'll flick over to Two, I think there can be a laziness of not switching the channels.

Do you hope they'll join you this time around on BBC Three?

Yeah I do, and the feedback I've had already on Twitter leading up to it has been far greater than the other two series, which is great. So on paper, it should be more of the same or even better!

How do you think Jamie's changed from the last series to this one?

I think everyone's changed in a very similar way. Everyone's grown up a lot more, and that's been an ongoing theme throughout both series. Jamie's grown up more than last series, and I guess that comes with time. I think it's the same for everyone.

They'll all got bigger problems now - Jamie's left school, and it's about getting a job and growing up and dealing with adult issues now. Before it was teenage issues, and they're just as big when you're going through them as a teenager, so this time it's more adult issues basically.

It's a big series for your parents, Keith and Sandra. How has Jamie's relationship with them changed?

It's funny because it's sort of switched. Jamie's having to try and look after them, whereas before they were trying to stick by him with all the pregnancy and stuff. Now Jamie's trying to find a job because Keith is struggling to find a job as well, so he's kind of trying to carry the torch for them now.

What about Laura? Is it fair to say that you're a lot more into her than she is into you?

Yes. I mean... without giving too much away - that's how it appears at the start. What I will say, is that at a midway point the balance is flipped. And it's not necessarily how you'd think. It's not just about feelings. It's why those feelings happen. So something happens (laughs)... I don't want to give any spoilers away!

That's fair enough. And how do Laura and Jamie deal with Emily in this series?

I think on the whole, with the whole Emily thing this is something else that's different in the new series. The first series was about the pregnancy, the second series was about the baby, it was finally here. And this series, it's less about the baby, the baby's here now and we're all dealing with it, we're into a routine, the baby's fine - we all know that now. They've become parents now. It's not - "What do I do?", they know what to do, it's how do they fit it in? It's more about that.

It becomes more about relationships, and about themselves. You'll see the way they deal with the baby, it's become so routine and so natural, and it's normal now. It becomes more about their conversations with each other and how they feel towards each other and life basically.

There have been some set changes this series. Your family home is now a caravan. What was it like filming in a caravan?

That was really interesting. I was really grateful for it actually.

When I first got the script and saw that we weren't filming in Jamie's house anymore, I had to say - and this is no disrespect to the people whose house it was, because it's a lovely house - but it was the fact that there were so many people in there at any one point, that it became really claustrophobic after two series doing it.

There were just too many people in a small place.

But surely a caravan is smaller than a house?

Well this is the thing. When I read that, I thought - "Oh excellent. They've substituted it with a caravan, that's even smaller!" - but the difference was that it was on a caravan site, and it was one of those big static caravan's, not a trailer caravan. So it was small, but we had a lot of overspill space, so you could stand outside the caravan and you had all this nice greenery on a caravan park.

It's unusual isn't it, for a sitcom to change its settings? Because it's not just your parents house, it's Laura's parents' house too...

Exactly. Yes it is, but I think it's really clever actually, very clever of them, because a lot of people can get tired or bored of the same settings. I think it's one of those things that can work for you or against you. Some people want to see the same thing - like The Royle Family, everyone wants to see the front room, and that's why it's funny.

But Pramface, which apart from the houses is all on location anyway, I think it was a very interesting move from the writers to mix it up a bit.

The way they've done it has made the story lines very strong. It creates that uncertainty of life, which adds to the pressure, and like I was saying earlier, dealing with adult issues.

They're not just dealing with a baby, there's also - "Where are we going to live? How are we going to fund that?" - you're constantly on the move so it creates a sort of anxiety for the audience.

What about series four? Do you think there's space for another series?

I do. I would like to see it end on a fourth series, to be tied up by the end of the fourth. Because I think it's got the room. I think everyone shares that opinion. When we first signed up there was a strong chance that we would get a second. We were signed for a guaranteed one series, but with an option for a second - they were going to decide after the first.

And by the time the end of the first series came, we already knew, and once we got that it was like - "Oh, we've got plenty more material for a third." And the third is left on a cliffhanger again, so they've written it like that, where there's room for a fourth.

I think if we were to go for a fifth, it would be stringing it out a bit. I would feel a bit gutted if it ended on a third because I do feel like there's room for six more episodes.

Pramface returns Tuesday 25th February at 10pm on BBC Three


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