We had a great plot idea - unfortunately Seinfeld did it first | Graham Linehan on the return of Count Arthur Strong

We had a great plot idea - unfortunately Seinfeld did it first

Graham Linehan on the return of Count Arthur Strong

Count Arthur Strong returns to BBC One next week. Here Graham Linehan, who writes the series with the character’s creator  Steve Delaney, speaks about the show.

Is it becoming harder to dream up the bizarre schemes Arthur finds himself embroiled in?

 It’s a long process and it starts off slow and then as we work together, we talk, the ideas start to tumble in. It’s always difficult at the start but once we get into it, Arthur’s voice starts taking over and suddenly it just starts working.

Tell us a little about Birdie, the new café character played by Bronagh Gallagher? 

Birdie is a homeless person who is coming into the café for the same reasons as everyone else, for a bit of warmth. We’re always looking for a replacement for the wonderful Katya (Ruth Posner) from Series 1 and Birdie was the one. 

The last series ended with Count Arthur flying to the US. How do you think the Americans would cope with his madcap ways?   

We weren’t able to figure out the answer to that question so we just pretended it hadn’t happened! We thought we’d figure it out and write something as we go along. The only thing that came close to it was we had an idea of Arthur being one of the people who sits in to replace celebrities at awards shows and he turns up to pick up an award. Unfortunately, Seinfeld did exactly the same plot so we had to chuck that one.  

How has your writing relationship with Steve Delaney evolved over the past three series? 

It’s stayed the same really. We work apart at first and write separate drafts that bring it on a certain amount but then when we get together and Arthur starts speaking, the final draft is where we really start having some fun.

What’s your all-time favourite malapropism of Arthur’s? 

From the new series when Arthur is talking about religious cults, he says: ‘They’re very influential, their testicles are everywhere.’  I think that’s definitely the best one we’ve done.

We hear you make a cameo in the new series. What should eagle-eyed viewers look out for? 

Only because it was too difficult to find someone to do this one line. That’s usually the reason I do cameos. It’s too hard to cast them so I just popped in. It’s always embarrassing but I think we got away with it. It’s a necessary evil let me put it that way. I’ve done a cameo in nearly everything I’ve done, I’m often to be seen, unfortunately.

Count Arthur Strong is on BBC One at 8.30pm on Fridays from May 19. Here's a preview clip of the first episode:

Published: 11 May 2017

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