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I TALK TO Tony Maudsley & Sophie McShera

As The Job Lot returns, so do my two favourite job seekers, Graham and Bryony, played by Tony Maudsley and Sophie McShera.

The Job Lot began on ITV last year, but this year finds a new lease of life on ITV2. At a recent screening I watched episodes one and three of the new series and right from the opening credits, through to the performances on screen and the way the show had been edited, it was clear the show was bigger and better than before!

Thankfully my two favourite job seekers are back, Graham and Bryony, played by Tony Maudsley (Benidorm) and Sophie McShera (Downton Abbey) and don't worry... they're still unable to find a job in this year.

After the screening I headed to the bar to catch up with Tony and Sophie to find out what's in store for their characters this time around, as well as finding out what their worst ever job was!

How does it feel being on the hunt for a job?

Tony: As jobseekers we get more days off! We get the best of it don't we? The best deal.

Sophie: Yeah, we do actually. We were saying earlier, we're the annoying people that are really happy to be there because we only do the odd a week.

Tony: So they slog out for 6 days a week and then we pop in and go - "Hello!" - all bright and breezy. (Laughs)

Do you think your characters will ever find a job?

Tony: I think I'm unemployable really. There's just no chance!

Sophie: I think I am actually...

Tony: You go for one this year don't you?

Sophie: Yeah, I go for a job this year and get pretty close... (Laughs) I don't get close at all!

Do you think Graham actually wants to find a job though?

Tony: I genuinely do yeah. I think his wearing that suit... although he wears it so badly with nothing underneath, is his effort. I think he's really enthusiastic.

And in the first series he though he'd got a job in the bakers or something, but it wasn't, it was just a role-play! (Laughs) I think he'd love a job, but I think he'd still come back though, he'd miss Janette.

How has the series changed now that The Job Lot has moved to ITV2?

Sophie: It's ruder. It's edgier!

Tony: Yeah, well that was the first time I'd seen it (at the press screening) because I was away filming Benidorm when they had a screening and so I'd heard that it had a different look, and I think it's great.

I think it's punchier, I think it's brighter, it's more youthful in a way isn't it? I think it works really well for ITV2. I think before it was sort of straddling two audiences, it inherited the Vicious audience which I though was a big mistake.

But now I think ITV2 is a great home for it. It knows its audience and I think it's much better. I think the revamp of the show really suits the channel. I think a lot of the changes happened in post production, I don't feel like we did anything different really... apart from the sauciness! There was an obvious injection of a bit more sauce, which we never used to have. I like a bit of smut! (Laughs)

Tony what's it like for you going from sunny Benidorm to a job centre in Bethnal Green?

Tony: It's actually the other way around, I do freezing cold in January February and then I go off to Benidorm in March. It does get to the point where if one more mouse runs across my foot... I sit there wishing for Benidorm... just desperate for sunshine!

How about you Sophie - This is quite different from filming Downton Abbey I'd imagine?

Sophie: Yeah, I kind of do them both at the same time in February, so I do a bit of The Job Lot whilst I'm doing Downton so they totally cross over which is really weird. I actually really like doing both comedy and drama at the same time, it's really fun.

It keeps you on your toes. Someone asked me earlier which look I prefer, and I genuinely couldn't decide! They're both pretty grubby.

I'm getting really slick on The Job Lot, I don't know what they're putting on my hair! (Laughs).

Have you had many people come up to you in the street since the first series?

Sophie: Yeah, the people that have watched it really love it, that's what I find. I always get really lovely feedback like Jim who plays Mr Carson in Downton Abbey watches it, and he really likes it. He always tells me that he's watched it. I get really nice feedback.

Tony: Yeah I get really nice feedback. The thing with me is that I have to tell people that I'm in it because I get recognised first of all for Benidorm and then they say - "What else have you done?" - and I say I do this other things called The Job Lot and they go - "oh you're that guy? Ah!" - because luckily for me it's such a different look.

This look is easier and quicker. I don't shower before working on this. I put a pair of trousers on and the jacket and that is it. Benidorm takes quite a bit longer. Benidorm I can't nip out to the shops kind of thing. I'm a bit trapped once I put the hot pants on! (Laughs)

To be fair, when it's 35 degrees in Benidorm I don't actually mind the hot pants. What am I saying? I love my hot pants! (Laughs)

What's been the worst job you've ever had? 

Tony: I did a milk round... I was good at that actually because my fingers are really big, so I can get a pint in between each of my fingers. I can carry five at a time which is really quite skilled.

People envied me for that! I worked in an MFI showroom, not showroom... at the back where you had to get all the parcels and stuff. I've worked in three bingo halls which I loved! I absolutely loved that.

Sophie: My worst one was... you know when you do a summer job in a factory? It wasn't meat or anything! It was cardboard, as in... you know those big display units you get that are made out of cardboard? Say at the end of the isle in Boots? We had to package those! My hands were cut to pieces with paper cuts.

Me and my best friend did it together and after three weeks we had absolutely nothing left to say to each other because the shifts were so long and so boring we used up all our chat!

Tony: Oh and I was a nanny for two brats in Australia! It was horrible, they were the two most despicable kids I've ever met in my life. I hated them. This was like 1990. They used to call me Charles!

There used to be a programme on telly called Charles In Charge and they called me Charles the whole time. I only lasted 8 weeks before I had to go, and on my last day I put all their really expensive dinner gowns into the washing machine on a really hot wash and left! (Laughs)

The Job Lot starts Wednesday 24th September at 10pm on ITV2


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