'I imagine that it looks like a jolly... and it is'
How easy a decision was it to make series three?
Very easy. No arms needed to be twisted. I like the fact that there's a decent length of time in between each series so that we look older and perhaps a little more battered. I think that on its own is interesting.
Do you prepare a few impressions before filming the series?
Every time we've done The Trip I've thought ahead a bit, done some research and learned a few new voices.
I thought it would be quite funny to do Andy Murray talking about the meal he's just eaten in the same way he talks about the match he's just played: 'It wasn't easy but I had the starter and I did really well with it because I finished it…' The same way these solo sports people speak as if they are their own biggest fan. I think they have to be for the psychology.
But I did stumble upon Barry Gibb andthat made Steve laugh a lot, so I did a lot of him. I've been listening recently to Donald Trump's voice and thinking to myself how it's an impressionist's dream because there are so many quirks in it. It's full of identifiable traits that are easy to copy. But I loathe the man so I can't bring myself to do him.
Most of my impressions are of people I admire or have affection for. Barry Gibb is somebody I have massive reservoirs of affection for and have had for a hell of a long time, and I think he has a fascinating voice.
Do you get a lot of satisfaction from making Steve laugh?
It's nice when it happens. Generally speaking people always ask me what the food was like but to be honest that is the last thing on my mind during a scene. I'm thinking about what I'm going to say and asking myself if I am going to be funny. If I am going to come with anything. Because very often we start a scene and have no idea how we are going to fill it. But usually stuff comes along.
It's always nice if you make someone laugh, especially someone like Steve who I have so much respect for.
Is the series as enjoyable to make as it looks?
It's probably harder work than it looks. I imagine that it looks like a jolly and on many levels, of course, it is, but equally there is pressure. You're not just learning lines. Normally, in most acting jobs, even if you're the lead in something, there are scenes in which you are not the main thing. But in this it's basically us all the time. So there's no sitting in your trailer for a whole day waiting, which in some ways is lovely, but in other ways, now and again, it'd be nice to have a break from it.
You're constantly in a state of trying to invent some fiction. Or a half truth, or find a truth and bend it a little bit to make it interesting. It was quite full-on.
Physically we covered more distance than we did on either of the other two Trips. The Lake District was a very small area and series two branched out to Italy, but with this one we literally went from Santander all the way down to Málaga.
Were there any locations on this Spanish trip that stood out?
We visited a city called Cuenca, which is built up on a ridge. It was quite stunning. The thing about Spain that struck me was the topography. I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes across on the screen.
What does the series say about ageing and being middle-aged?
I think that's what it's all about. The dying of the light, as Dylan Thomas said, because it is two men who are now in their early 50s. In series one, we were in our mid-40s and I would say that is perhaps when the decline begins.
Somebody of 70 may scoff at this but I think Steve and I both feel that. We both feel the passing of the years and that is something we talk about. And even when we're not talking about it I think it's in the background.
I think you'll see it in subconscious ways. I wonder whether when we sit down there's more of a sigh, or more of an appreciation of the chair. But there are lots of little things. That's one of the main things that I've always loved about it – it's that we've been doing this series at the ages that we are and the fact that time has passed in between doing them. Because if you look at the first series, we now look older and there's not much you can do about that.
Published: 15 Mar 2017