Women like me because I'm a project... | Meet Johnny Vegas and the rest of the Dial M For Middlesbrough cast © UKTV

Women like me because I'm a project...

Meet Johnny Vegas and the rest of the Dial M For Middlesbrough cast

Johnny Vegas and Sian Gibson return to Gold later this month for their third comedy whodunit  as coach driver Terry and tour guide Gemma. In Dial M For Middlesbrough, again written by comedian Jason Cook, the bus breaks frown in a  fierce thunderstorm and they are forced to seek refuge in the dilapidated Shady Creek Caravan Park, where - wouldn’t you know it? – people have a habit of getting knocked off. Here Vegas and Gibson, and some of the supporting cast, talk about the show and introduce their characters, ahead of the December 14 broadcast.


Vegas Middlesbrough


Why are these films so successful?

It's a terrific ensemble every year. It's great writing, but there is also always the buzz of, ‘Who's in the next one?’

It has a very wide appeal as well. It has what I call the ‘Bingo Factor’. If it's discussed at the bingo by your mum and her friends, it's a success. You also know it's a hit when people from all generations stop you in the street to say, ‘I did like that thing you did.’

You just have to be sure they haven't confused you with Columbo. I have one of those faces. People ask, ‘Weren't you in The Rockford Files?’ or, ‘Weren't you three steps behind Cagney and Lacey in the closing credits? Aren't you the Northern version of Harv?’

Also, as a writer, you have to be mindful of trying to extract too much from an idea, but Jason Cook never does that.  The most dangerous thing you can ever do as a writer is presume to know what the public who are keeping you in a job want. 

When you get to the stage where you think you can foist anything on them, you're in trouble. You might be running a fishmonger's and getting up at 4am to get fresh fish for your customers. Then you start to think, ‘You know what? Fish fingers will do them.’ When you do that, you will lose custom along the way. 

Jason would never do that. He maintains a very high quality control, and that's what makes his scripts so brilliant. 

Why have viewers warmed to the relationship between Terry and Gemma? 

For a start, Sian is an absolutely brilliant actress – she has impeccable comic timing. Also, we get on so well off-camera, and that plays into what we do on-camera. We are playing it as straight as we can. Terry and Gemma are two normal people in ludicrous situations. We have perfected the bemused look to each other. It's great to feel that we have got that really good on-screen chemistry. 

It's also very nice when you can give each other notes without someone saying, ‘How dare you?’

 It's that classic thing – it's great fun coming in to work with Sian every day. 

 What does Gemma see in Terry? 

What women see in me in real life – a project! Terry is the emotional equivalent of an Airfix model: ‘I'm going to gently dismantle and rebuild you in a way that makes both of us happy.’

Terry and Gemma's relationship has developed slowly – I don't think Terry would stand a chance at speed dating with Gemma. They have worked together for a long time. She's looking for someone who will really look after her, and when it happens, they know each other inside-out. They both have the same sense of humour. 

Why will Dial M For Middlesbrough work at Christmas? 

 Because it's event television. Even though everything is multiplatform these days, at Christmas people still gather around the TV and watch things together. This is the ideal show to watch as a family at Christmas

Sian M Middlesbrough


 Why do you think this series has proved so popular? 

The cast draws people in. If I was a viewer, it would certainly draw me in. It's just very easy viewing. 

I also hope people love the relationship between Terry and Gemma. 

It's also something you can sit and watch as a family. My mum and aunties love it. It's very rare that you get a comedy which appeals across the generations like this. 

 What’s it like working with Johnny? 

 It is just such a joy working with Johnny. You know it's going to be four weeks of non-stop laughs. When we first met, we hit it off straight away. We have a great friendship outside of this little world. He is a really good friend, and my scenes with him are so easy. I just love working with him. 

The fact that Johnny and I have a great relationship translates onto the screen. Working together feels very natural. The beauty of these films is that while everything else is larger-than-life, Johnny and I try to play the truth of the situation. We are the Everymen. 

Would you like to make more films set on a Draper's Tour?  

Absolutely. I would love to do more. I love how every year we get a different cast. That's one of the most exciting things about it - although we do feel traitorous because every year we miss the cast from the year before. We really bond every year. 

Then, just before the shoot, Johnny and I will say, ‘Who's in the cast?’ and the actors are always great. This year we've got Jason Donovan, for God's sake! Who'd have thought it? We're all very starstruck. He's gorgeous. 

When we were younger, he was a sensation. He was a beautiful, exotic Australian hunk, and now we are all reliving our late teens. 

 I have been pretending that I'm really not fazed that it is Jason Donovan and trying to act cool around him. We tried to make his character not look as handsome as he is, but it's not working.

Why will Dial M For Middlesbrough work at Christmas?

It's a brilliant family show. When the first film came out, I showed it to a few friends. I didn't actually think it would be their cup of tea – it’s not Breaking Bad. But they all said, ‘This is perfect Christmas viewing.;  Christmas is a time when you want to relax and be entertained and watch something funny together. Hopefully people will know they're getting great stuff – and Jason Donovan! 

Jason Donovan


Plays Darren, an events manager and ‘90s throwback

 I laughed a lot when I read it. I also thought that Darren was a character I could really explore and that there was some great dialogue which I could get my teeth into.  really enjoyed the contrast with the character I've just played, The Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 

Joanna Page


Plays Susan, an extraordinary clumsy chef

This is the most comfortable costume I've ever worn. The shoes are hideous, but so comfortable. I'm usually in heels. It's nice not have to do anything to be sexy. I can just be normal.

Susan says herself that she is odd. She says that when she was young, she was dropped on her head by her mother. She is very simple. She's a chef, and that's her life. But she's also quite mysterious. You don't know whether she's a baddie or a goodie. She is odd, but also rather frightening. 

M Middlesbrough


Plays Evie, who owns the site with Jed

This is a mixture of Ealing comedy, Amicus horror and Carry On films, all of which I love. It was lovely to get the call. The script made me laugh out loud, which is very unusual. It's so funny. It has all the best of The League of Gentlemen and Inside No. 9. Horror and darkness are made light by normalising them. That's where the comedy lies. It's very dark, but very funny in the same breath. 

Evie models herself on Alexis Carrington in Dynasty. She's far too over-dressed and overmade-up. She wears very expensive clothes, which is ridiculous given that she is running a low rent caravan park. She believes she is running a high-end holiday retreat, but there's nothing high-end or holiday about it. 

She's tight as a clam. She won't spend any money on the caravan park. It's like that scene in Carry on Camping where everyone is charged a pound for everything

M Middlesbrough phil daniels

Plays Jed, who owns the site with Evie 

Jed is the owner of the caravan park and is a very slippery customer. He's happy to rip everyone off. He is overcharging for everything. He affects an air of being sophisticated and urbane, but that is a long way from the truth.   For him, the coach is just full of more victims he can make money out of. Then the dead bodies start cropping up, which is not so good for business 

Wozniak Middlesbrough


Plays Professor Neil, an excitable birdwatcher

I play Neil, a conservationist and keen twitcher. Neil is absolutely full of himself and extremely abusive towards his assistant. He is a pillock of the first water. 

Neil is a terrible bully. He and his assistant are deeply entwined, but the poor woman is so browbeaten. She doesn't even realise what a bully he is. He needs a good talking to.

[His hobby] could have been anything. He just happens to have chosen birds. What's important is that people know he is very clever and high status and better than them. It had to be a small pond. It could have been 16th Century baroque string instruments or the history of oil rigs, as long as he was the big fish.



Plays Chad, an American tourist 

He's an American tourist backpacking across Europe. The term I've come up with is that he is an Instagram hippie. He might be the kind of guy who believes in saving the planet, but he will probably take a lot of pictures of himself doing that. He happens to be in the caravan park when the murders start happening. It is traumatic, but Chad is someone who feels that he can grow and learn from this experience. He is also a bit of a thorn in the side of Terry. They are chalk and cheese. 

Middlesbrough Anette crosby


Plays long-term park resident and self-declared ‘clairvoyant’ Edna

 I may not be able to act with Johnny Vegas again. I found it difficult to keep a straight face. So horror being registered became a battle of wills. Through it all, Sian Gibson kept a serene, happy face, while dealing with shoes that were agony. I miss them all. 

M Middlesbrough Forbes


Plays Phil, newly arrived on the caravan site

He’s mute! Being mute meant I was mostly a spectator and spent most of my time watching the star-studded cast in awe. Everyone was absolutely hilarious and supremely welcoming. We talked everything from horror stories to ceramics. I’ve made a lot of new friends

M Middlebrough


Plays Penny, Phil’s girlfrield

Penny and her boyfriend Phil have won a holiday to this awful caravan park. She is used to five-star hotels and doesn't like this place at all. She is constantly going on at her boyfriend and moaning to him about leaving. He is totally under her thumb. She wears the trousers. She is from Essex. If you think of some of the characters from The Only Way is Essex, that's what she's like! She's great!

• Dial M For Middlesbrough is on Gold on December 14 at a time to be confirmed. 

Published: 1 Dec 2019

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