As The Mimic returns to Channel 4, I caught up with Terry Mynott who plays Martin Hurdle to find out more.
The series focusses on Martin who is struggling having ditched his job in site maintenance to become a professional mimic, and is finding paid work hard to come by.
The second series picks up with Martin having left his maintenance job for his big break on TV which at the end of series one we saw didn't quite go to plan. Martin's finding work increasingly hard to find and his son and agent Steven, is unable to cope after the death of his mother and decides to go travelling.
So who better to become his new agent than Neil (played by the brilliant Neil Maskell, Utopia) who runs his local newsagent. The first gig is set to raise his impressionist profile, by... get ready for it... busking at a shopping centre.
For anyone who didn't catch the first series, what's The Mimic all about?
It's a show about Martin and his little world, where he's been hiding away and hasn't quite grown up. He's sort of lived in a boxset really, nerding out in his flat, and hasn't really shown the ability to be a man.
And then all of a sudden he finds out that he's a father and his life starts to pick up after an internet clip gets launched, and I think he rather begrudgingly gets thrown into a world that he should've really starting going into much sooner. I think the show is about a guy who's just trying to hide away, and eventually life won't let him hide away anymore.
How pleased were you with the reaction to series one?
I thought the burning torches and the pitchforks were a bit much! And the fact I'm now not allowed near any form of life! (Laughs).
Oh amazing! I thought we would go out and it would be maybe popular in my sort of age range, 30-40, but it's all over the place! Mums and dads and 14 year old kids just absolutely love it, and I must admit I was a little bit taken aback. I mean I knew that we'd done something nice, but you're just involved in so many things that you don't dare to dream that it would have the reaction it had.
Don't get me wrong, it didn't catapult me into anything, but what it did was bloody lovely. It was so affirming, and amazing to get that that we were all sort of blown away. And I think the great thing is that the show is still being picked up by people now, in this world of 'watch it when you want'. Even now we're still getting a new audience all the time, so I must admit I was blown away.
How did you feel when you heard that you had been given a second series?
Oh yeah! God... it came at the right time and I had been waiting around, you have to wait to hear whether or not you're going to get a second series. And even if the audience give a great reaction, you still don't know, because it's down to the channel, and they may have already commissioned something else like it, and the head guy changes you don't know. But it was amazing, it was like the gods had aligned.
I mean, the first series, we went to screen the pilot at Channel 4, and at the end of it, Shane said "we've shown it to audiences..." and he pulled a little envelope out, and he said "Here are the findings from showing it to an audience..." - and I'm like "What the fuck is going on? This is weird. I don't want to hear that Beryl from Amersham thinks I'm a wanker." and anyway they went "...and on those results we'd like to offer The Mimic a series, and the room went berserk! And I think that's possibly one of the greatest times of my life. I was stunned.
How has the second series evolved from series one?
I think all series on the second series find their feet a little bit more. I mean the actors certainly go off and watch it themselves and get to know how their character will react to stuff, because you know you always want to think about how Martin would react, because we very much wanted to created a little world really, rather than it be The Terry Mynott Impersonation Show you know?
So I had a long time to go off and think about what he was like as a kid. So everyone knows the show a little bit more and it sort of dictates itself. You kind of get a feel for where you think it's going to go, so if anything it's bigger and better.
I find watching The Mimic that whilst there are many laugh out loud moments, there are also moments that are quite emotional. Was that a conscious decision to have those two tones?
Yeah, we filmed the tasters and we did 4 minutes, and then we did 11 minutes and we had six months between those whilst we were working on other projects and we filmed stuff where I was in the park and the writer would call me up and pretend to be Stephen, and they'd film me walking down the street and talking to normal people, so it dictated its own vibe from there.
We didn't want it to be that Martin blags himself into the White House (laughs), we wanted it to be steeped in reality. We wanted people to be laughing in a comedy drama way and laugh like - "Oh don't say that to Jean, oh don't say that to Neil!" - and then you start laughing because you know the characters. So it sort of dictated itself from the tasters that we did, that sort of real life thing.
It is a sitcom, but there are moments of drama in it really. It's a wide bracket comedy drama anyway!
Your character Martin gets involved in a complicated love story this series. What can you tell us about that?
I think Martin is a master at propping up collapsed buildings. I don't think it's what he wants, but he's going to rush it through, and I think a lot of people do this - he makes it into something that it totally isn't. And that's as much as I can say without giving away huge plot points.
There are a lot of new impressions in this series, for example, my favourite Walter White from Breaking Bad...
Yeah, we wanted it to be like Martin has lost his job and he's been watching lots of boxsets, so by default I had to go off and watch a lot of boxsets from about July onwards and I became obsessed! I'd say The Sopranos and Breaking Bad were the greatest things I'd ever seen.
I mean Breaking Bad just rocked my world, and towards the end I was so in love with the "I am the one who knocks" speech, and we couldn't do it because it belongs to Breaking Bad - you can't copy it, and put it in even if it's homage. So I was a bit gutted when we couldn't do it and we had to morph it up because I spent hours walking around going "I am the one who knocks" (He did the impression - it was awesome!).
What are some of your favourite ever impressions to do?
I'd say it's the older ones, like Alex Guinness - the stuff I grew up watching. Obviously I didn't grown up in the fifties, (laughs), but when I grew up they just re ran black and white films and I mean these days you'd be hard pressed to get away with putting a black and white on.
For year you just had black and white films on in the daytime constantly - so James Mason and Alec Guinness, Roger Livesey and loads of people that nobody knows! (Laughs)
How did you first find out that you could do impressions?
Again, I think I grew up in the eighties, and really it was an amalgamation of the sixties in many ways. Telly used to end at a certain time, BBC Two transmitted from about 6 'til midnight, so you had to fill the gaps you know, VCR's were around but we were a little bit poor, so literally it was just me being a kid in the middle of the countryside and after everything was done and dusted I'd be walking around doing Star Wars.
It was a way of recreating and keeping things going. I was just playing really. Obviously I was 9 years old and incapable of doing a very good impression, but it was there that you get to know dialogue and moving it around and just playing around with stuff really.
How much of what we see in The Mimic is based on your real life?
Quite a bit! I mean what we see in the first series, where a pigeon walks onto the bus, I was at Wimbledon tube and a pigeon walked on and I told Matt (writer) about that and then quite a few things turn up if I tell Matt about them. I think bits and bobs.
I think Matt's very much tuned in to the loser side of me, I would say that I am completely accident prone. I'm a little bit more forceful, and I have a bit more tenacity than Martin, otherwise i wouldn't have got to where I am today. But at the same time, I am forever pushing doors when they quite clearly say pull!
Was it a conscious decision for you not to do a sketch show after Very Important People?
We'd already done VIP, we'd already done the pilot, and we didn't make a conscious decision to poo poo anything. And I think too many people can say - "That kind of old style is done." - it's not true. It's just whatever the public dictate is going on at that particular time, do you see what I mean? I'm sure it will have its day again, it was just a show that Matt made around my YouTube clip, how do we do a show around this that keeps up?
Because if you watch my YouTube clip, that is me having literally run out of options. I did stand up, I wasn't very good, I couldn't get booked again, and that's just me saying to the girlfriend - "Can I borrow the camera?" - and then I got into the front room and I was just playing around with it.
And I think that's what people appreciated, that I'm not crowbarring gags in, I'm just talking shit with the voices. And that's what people like to do and I think that's what made it for Matt. He wanted to incorporate somebody walking around all the time pretending to be other people.
Why is it do you think that aside from shows like Britain's Got Talent, that there aren't many impressions on TV?
I think Alastair McGowan is technically the best impressionist we have. I think the Americans do it so much better - Jay Pharaoh has done some of the most amazing things. But I don't know. Just because I can do voices, doesn't really make me a spokesman for voices.
There are new people coming up all the time and I keep my eye on them and try and help those guys as much as possible. It's come back. Everything goes in circles, it will all come back. It's all very well turning up and going - "I'm the new shiny thing" (he said in a sort of Buzz Lightyear voice) but it's just nonsense.
As I say, Alastair McGowan is technically brilliant and you have to remember, his big
impression show was huge, as was Dead Ringers was... huge!
You mentioned Very Important People earlier, are you hoping to work with Morgana Robinson again?
Yeah, I saw her the other day. I love that girl. I keep saying to people she's a battleship, but I changed that the other day because I thought it was a terrible way or explaining her, I now refer to her as the Rolls Royce of comedy rather than battleship.
When I work with that girl, she is such a safe pair of hands, she has the ability to ad-lib and move it around so you never quite know what you're going to do. My god I'd love to work with that girl again, she's just a little piece of genius. She will be back with a vengeance I'm sure.
There's a bit in the new series where your son's friends ask you to record their voicemail messages. Does that happen a lot to you day-to-day?
I tell you what, my agent rang me up the other day and instead of giving me a job, they asked if I could do their voicemail! I just thought everybody does this! I love it. The only thing is when people don't know what they want and they think I know what they want, and they're like - "Do thingy." - and I'm like, "Well who?".