'I'm sure the rest of the cast got a bit sick of me...' | Tom Basden on his new BBC One sitcom Here We Go © BBC

'I'm sure the rest of the cast got a bit sick of me...'

Tom Basden on his new BBC One sitcom Here We Go

BBC One next week launches a full series of its family comedy Here We Go. First aired as a one-off pilot made during lockdown, the show follows the Jessops: Matriarch Sue, played by Alison Steadman, and couples Rachel and Paul (played by Katherine Parkinson and Jim Howick) and Robin and Cherry (Tom Basden  and Tori Allen-Martin) while youngest son Sam (Jude Morgan-Collie) documents their adventures on his camera. The show is also written by Basden, who talks about it here...

What can viewers expect from the first full series of Here We Go?

The show focuses on the kind of everyday catastrophes that beset the Jessops’ life, some of which are very familiar, things like the family trying to eat more healthfully or trying to go on a day out together, and some of them are quite weird and wonderful, like the family accidentally kidnapping a dog or having to destroy a swimming pool, or going undercover with an estate agent, so there's a real mixture of ordinary family life and quite ridiculous adventures.

I’ve tried to move the Jessops on from the pilot but keep a lot of things in place. So Robin and Cherry have now got back together, having broken up in the pilot and they are now giving it another go at the start of the series, and Amy and Maya are still together and Sam is still making videos.

Rachel and Paul's relationship is still in need of a revamp, I guess you'd say. So in some ways, there were a lot of things from the pilot that I felt like I wanted to spend more time with.

How was writing the series? Was it easier, because you had all the characters established, or was it more difficult taking the family out of the pandemic and into a more normal way of life?

I think once I found the stories I wanted to tell and the overall series arcs for the characters and their relationships, it was quite easy and really enjoyable.

When I first came up with the idea for the show, it was never intended to be purely for the pandemic, even though this worked really well for the pilot in 2020. At the time I felt that there were a lot of stories and ideas that could come from the central setup - that the youngest son is documenting the life of his family who are desperately trying to find ways to have fun together despite the world trying to make life hard for them.

And I was already thinking about loads of other situations, and places I'd like to put them. When I was making the pilot I felt like there was a lot left to be done with the Jessops, so I'm delighted that I had the chance to do that.

It’s quite a full-on when you're writing and you're also featuring in something. You're also there all the time as you're watching scenes that you're not in, talking to the director, talking to the actors. And I'm sure that they get a bit sick of me but it's also really exciting seeing your ideas come to life, and then afterwards in the edit, helping to make decisions about how best to present them.

There were times when it was  wearing me out a bit, but I think that's what comes trying to make a comedy show.

When you wrote it, did you have the casting in mind?

When I wrote the pilot I did have Katherine in mind, and with Jim and Alison, as soon as I saw them reading it I absolutely couldn't imagine anyone else doing it, they were just so perfect for those roles.

With Cherry, Tori’s audition was so brilliant and funny that I was really excited to write more dialogue for her and suddenly had a much better handle on the character. Having made the pilot, I could pretty much write for the and for their voices when putting the series together, which is really helpful.

Within the series, there are certain roles that I wrote with specific people in mind, such as Ray for Tim Key or Frank for Mark Williams.

And what was it like working with Alison Steadman?

Incredible! Alison is someone I've been watching in films and TV shows for ages, from Abigail’s Party, Nuts in May, Life is Sweet when I was growing up and then Gavin & Stacey more recently, and she is just such a joy to work with. Every take is just fantastic, and so funny and she’s always completely in control of where the comedy is coming from, so it was brilliant and a great experience working with her.

Some of my favourite stuff in the series is from Alison's character, like the episode where she gets a new boyfriend/ She's just she's so wonderful at playing a character like Sue, who is so upbeat and absurd, and sometimes little bit unaware, but then can suddenly become quite emotional and can suddenly break your heart out of nowhere. She makes it look so easy.

How did you find acknowledging the camera, thanks to the footage being filmed by Sam?

I quite like being able to acknowledge the camera. I made the film David Brent Life On The Road with Ricky Gervais a few years ago and that was the first time that I got to do that, to play that game of acknowledging the camera and looking to the camera as if to say like ‘are you hearing this?’ and I think it can add a lot of extra humour because you’re able to play with what the character is and isn't aware of.

Do you prefer being behind the camera or in front of it?

I would absolutely prefer to be in front of it if I had the choice, but I think something like this, where I had the opportunity to write scripts and then be in front of the camera is even better. Any setup where you can improvise and play around and try and find funny moments with other performers who have a similar sensibility is pretty much the most fun you can have.

Was there much improvisation on the set then?

There was certainly some. I was always encouraging the cast to do takes where we go a bit mad and throw stuff in and start all talking over each other because in some ways, the show is about the chaos of family life, so I wanted it to feel like we’re a real family and that it’s not all carefully scripted. Some of the bonkers stuff made it through to the finished episodes as well.

What was your favourite scene to shoot?

I really liked all the stuff in the distillery in episode 6 with Ben Clifford, who played Campbell. He made me laugh so much. My favourite thing to shoot was probably the scenes in the Italian restaurant in episode 5, we were essentially eating pizza and tiramisu for two days.

What do you hope viewers will take away from this series?

I really hope that viewers see their own families in this show and recognise the mini triumphs and disasters that families inflict upon themselves when they spend time together and that they’ll be impressed by my salsa dancing.

Is it a coincidence that Jim’s character enjoys archery, given that his character in BBC One’s Ghosts died by getting an arrow in his neck?

I wish I had done it on purpose, because a few people have picked up on that, but unfortunately it just is a coincidence.

[Howick, incidentally says that having archery lesson with Tim Key for the show ‘was like an alternative comedy fever dream. Best date I've ever had. I won.’]

• Here We Go will air weekly will air weekly on BBC One at 8.30pm on Fridays from April 29 and will also be available as a box set on BBC iPlayer.

Published: 19 Apr 2022

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