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David Earl interview for Derek

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The following interview is available free for reproduction in full or in part, and must be accompanied by the following credit:

Derek is on Channel 4 on Wednesdays at 10pm from 30th January 2013.

David Earl plays Kev.

Q: You still occasionally work as a gardener. What made you switch to acting?

A: Ricky gave me an opportunity, and you have to give it a go, don't you? In my head, I'm still a gardener. So when you're offered a job in a sitcom, you think, "I'll give it a crack, and then I'll go back to the gardening!"

Q: We need to talk about Kevin.

A: Kev is a bullsh*itter. He's lazy, but quite confident. He's like a dog that no one strokes. He just sits in the corner and wants to be fondled, but just gets ignored. I wouldn't want to send my own parents to a place where someone like Kev worked! But he also has a softer side, and he looks out for Derek.

Q: Please tell us more.

A: Kev is also pretty seedy. I do a stand-up character called Brian, and he can be seen as quite sleazy. In his writing, Ricky has taken it to the next level with Kev. He is properly dirty! It's great fun talking about rude bits 24/7!

Q: Are there any similarities between you and Kev?

A: No, not now. But he does remind me of myself in my 20s, when I did virtually nothing, and came up with all these excuses. Then something clicked, and I realised that time was running out. I thought, "I'd best get on with it now", and I did.

Q: Did you do any research into the character?

A: No. Ricky asked me to do a bit of research, but I'm afraid I forgot! The character talks about a lot of dirty things, but don't worry, I didn't go on any unsuitable sites. I just imagine things!

Q: What is Kev's relationship with Dougie like?

A: Kev and Dougie argue all the time, but they're still like brothers. If someone is giving Dougie hard time, Kev will step in because it feels like the brotherly thing to do. They get on each other's nerves, but they will always defend each other.

Q: What are Ricky's strengths as a writer?

A: You just have to look at his past work. The Office is quite good - in fact, it's pretty much perfection! Extras is great, too - I don't want to go on because Ricky will get a big head! He is simply very good at his job.

Q: How have you found it being directed by Ricky?

A: He's a brilliant director. I have mainly worked as a stand-up in the past, and I don't necessarily see myself as an actor. But he gives me a lot of room to play, and he doesn't mind if I mess things up from time to time. There's no pressure to nail it on the first take. Sometimes I might laugh instead of being serious, and Ricky will just make that part of the show. I can't imagine what it would be like to work with a stressful director. I think I would walk off and a huff and go home! But we have such a lot of fun making this - and that's all down to Ricky's great skill as a director.

Q: Do you think a nursing home is a good setting for a comedy?

A: Definitely. In fact, I can't believe there has never been a sitcom written about a nursing home before. It seems like the perfect situation. All the residents have these great stories. They're so interesting. They have lived the most amazing lives. They are also incredibly young at heart. One day I had to come in here and tell a lot of jokes from my stand-up set, and one 91-year-old resident in particular really loved it. Often older people are forgotten about. I hope this might help some people change their mind about the elderly.

Q: Do you feel there is potential for more series of Derek?

A: Absolutely. I think there would be lots of new places to take these characters. It would certainly be good fun to go deeper inside Kev's head and see more of what he thinks about. And the friendship between Derek, Dougie and Kev could definitely be expanded.

Q: Finally, what have you learned from doing this job?

A: The fact that you have to overcome your own fear. It's very easy to say no to lots of things. But I've discovered that you have to have a crack at things. You may fail at first, but then you realise that you're not dead and just have another go. I love acting. When you get it right, it's great fun. It's just playing. It also beats digging a ditch, which is what I do with the rest of my life. It's a lot easier than that, I can tell you!

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