'We don't want this to feel like glossy TV where everyone looks a bit too good...' | Tom Basden on the return of his BBC sitcom Here We Go © BBC

'We don't want this to feel like glossy TV where everyone looks a bit too good...'

Tom Basden on the return of his BBC sitcom Here We Go

The Jessops are back this week in the second series of BBC One family sitcom Here We Go – with series three already commissioned too. Here creator Tom Basden, who also plays Robin, talks about writing and filming the show… and what’s in store for viewers.

What can audiences expect from series two?

Series two sees the characters embark on a new stage of their lives and all try their hand at reinventing themselves a little bit.

At the end of series one, I teased the idea that Paul was going to train to become a policemen and Rachel would go back to university. So in series two both of them are trying to blend in among new groups of people – with, it’s fair to say, mixed results. 

What was your favourite scene to film?

I truth some of my favourite scenes to actually perform are the ones where we're at home and it will be a very long scene and the camera’s moving around and getting everyone and there are different conversations happening. 

There's usually at least one scene like this in every episode, and those are the ones where we really get to play around and have fun and really just create that really naturalistic family dynamic. Those scenes are a huge amount of fun. 

Everything around the street fair, where Robin and Dean have got an ice-cream business was brilliant fun too. And the episode where we go on the stag do and fall asleep in the hot tub was a bit like being on holiday.

So, there were individual days where we all really enjoyed ourselves but from a performance side, it's all the stuff in the house that’s my favourite.

Do you ever go off-script and add new things in?

Yeah, a little bit. Certainly we all get to the point after a few takes where we'll start adding stuff and trying things out. 

You don't have a huge amount of time when you're doing it so you have to be quite controlled. You can’t derail the scene and just start chucking random ideas in. But I think, generally the way that we shoot the show, with one camera following us around from Sam's point of view, means that we can all play around quite a lot and try out new lines and find what feels like the best, most natural way through the scene. 

So, we do have a lot of leeway and we do take the scenes to quite silly places sometimes. Which is not always for the best, I won't lie to you. But sometimes it does give you some of the funniest stuff.

What do you think appeals to viewers about the show?

I hope what resonates with people is that the characters are all really recognisable. And that it really does feel like you're spending time with this family. 

I think the way that we've shot it, having the youngest son Sam as the cameraman, following everyone around, talking to everybody, gives it a directness and realism that is very hard to create. You really do feel like this stuff is all happening, and that this is a real family. 

And we’re quite meticulous about what the house looks like and how they dress it, how much rubbish there is in the footwell of the car, that kind of thing. So, it doesn't feel like glossy TV where everything is a bit too clean, and everyone just looks a bit too good. We want it to feel very true so that viewers really buy into the world of it and recognise these characters.

Were there any specific challenges writing the second series?

The thing that's really hard is always the very start, when you’re faced with six or seven episodes you have to write, and you're just staring at your computer and don't know where to begin. With maybe a few ideas written on a napkin. I think it's true about everything that you write, but that's always the really hard bit. 

Because a lot of it is based on my own family, or people I know or things that have happened to me, I can often find things that feel like they would happen to the Jessops by going through people and events from my own life. So it's definitely not easy, finding a way to make all the different storylines interact but if you've got funny ideas and funny characters at the heart of it then certainly it makes it a lot easier.

Here We Go series two - the cast on a small boat

When you found out the show was going to be recommissioned what were your immediate ambitions for series two?

I was very proud of series one and I felt like we'd really delivered on what we'd set out to do after the pilot in terms of making it feel like a really original and funny world for a sitcom. 

So my main thought/anxiety was just not to screw it up really. Coming back, the main thing you don't want to avoid is to disappoint people in some way and make them feel like it had already peaked. 

But I'm feeling very, very positive about series two. I feel like everything is funnier and fresher and the storylines are, a bit more absurd, a bit more rewarding. So, I feel like it's developed really nicely while maintaining what I loved about the first series.

Can you tell us about some of the forthcoming guest stars?

Harry Enfield plays Sue's kind of frenemy in the neighbourhood, Edgar, who she organises the street fair with; Simon Farnaby and Dolly Wells are playing Rachel's sister and brother-in-law and Andrew Brooke and Sophie Wu play police officers that Paul is trying to butter up by pretending to be good at football. 

So, there's lots of fantastic guest stars in this series who just came on board and really embraced the spirit of the show. Dean, played by Ed Kear, is back and Robin’s other friend Jelson, played by Jon Furlong, is a hilarious addition to the cast. So I'm really delighted with all of the people that we've had join us.

How does it feel to be able to do series three as well?

Oh, it’s fantastic, because it also allows you to plan for the future and put storylines in motion. I won't give any away now but there are certain things that we introduced in series two that are going to come to fruition in series three.

 Without giving too much away, by the end of series two Paul graduates from his police training course so series three will see him start work, which I’m quite excited about. Amy's interest in music is reignited at the end of series two, and she's going to invest in that and start trying to play some gig. 

Sam might finally have a girlfriend and not be so unsuccessful in his love life. And there's big news for Robin and Cherry as well which means big changes for them in series 3.

• Here We Go, starts at 8pm on Friday on BBC One and iPlayer.

Published: 29 Jan 2024

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