Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong
Fresh Meat creators Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong shared a house together at Manchester University...so why did they decide to recreate that experience for television?
"It's such a great time of life, such a ripe area, we were surprised no one had revisited this in comedy form since The Young Ones," says Sam.
"It's quite simply a time when people leave home and start a new life and often don't know what the hell they are doing. That fundamental time of transition is a brilliant area for comedy. Also, Manchester was a great place for us to set it because you find an interesting mix of people; a great clash of backgrounds. For instance I went to public school in London and Jesse went to a comprehensive in Shropshire so we had our own stories to tell."
Says Jesse: "It's that classic scenario when people who may be very different are trapped together. You can get that in the work place, in flat shares like Peep Show and you get that in colleges and universities where people who wouldn't normally even say hello to each other are forced into close proximity.
"I never went into halls so like our freshers I went straight into a shared house in my first year. But what was unusual was that I was living with a bunch of people from my fairly small Shropshire hometown; a little group of people who'd all ended up at Manchester created a little republic of Shropshire."
And the seasoned co-writers brought in a team to work with them on the Channel 4 series.
Explains Sam; "We always imagined this as a team-written show partly for practical reasons because Peep Show has been recommissioned and moving forward if we're lucky enough to get another series of Fresh Meat we simply couldn't write two shows at once. So we always knew we wanted to bring other writers on board, some are more experienced, some very talented women writers, and one who had just graduated when we started writing. We've had a brief experience of team writing in the past but nothing as big as this. It felt good leading a team and we were excited to do that .. although obviously we don't want any competition, so in a way we're concerned we're creating our own enemies who will defeat us eventually...!"
Adds Jesse: "It's not a crusade. It is self interest really; we enjoy working with other talented writers."
And on the subject of casting, Jesse continues: "Casting is so crucial, you can see so many people and then someone will make the part come alive, often in a way you didn't expect. For a writer it's wonderful, quite a magical thing."
Sam agrees: "We had a great casting director. It is a tough job finding six leads who all had to be credibly young, funny, good actors. We're delighted with who we've got, it feels so locked in now we couldn't imagine who else could play those roles which is a lovely feeling. With Peep Show we didn't have this situation because we wrote the parts for Mitchell and Webb so there was never any casting issue. This was a bigger leap of faith."
And does Sam identify with any one of the housemates in particular?
"I think it's fair to say I could associate with all of the characters; the fun of writing anything is you can put bits of yourself in everyone. I went to public school so I knew a lot of JPs, there is probably quite a bit of JP in me in a way. But I was also a sensitive, anxious guy so that's Kingsley, and I was desperate to be cool and make a mark and impress people Oregon style. There was probably a bit of wanting to be a rebel like Vod, same as Josie I wanted to get involved and do everything, be positive, and like Howard sometimes I wanted to sit in my room and avoid talking to people. To me the joy of writing is that you can be all the characters; you don't have to just pick one."