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Q: What appealed to you about this project?
A: The chance to work with the greatest people in comedy. I’ve always wanted to work with Ricky Gervais. When they asked me, “Do you want to work on Ricky Gervais’ new series?” did I say, “Hang on, I’ll have a think about that. I’m very busy at the moment. I’ve got to do a gig above a pub for 10 quid tonight”? Of course I didn’t! I said, “Yes, please! It’s the new Ricky Gervais show, for God’s sake!”
Q: Talk us through your character.
A: Tom is quite a serious man. He’s also quite frustrated as he was in the merchant navy and is now landlocked. There’s no work, and he feels undervalued. But on the upside, he’s fallen in love with Hannah.
Q: What brings them together?
A: Tom really likes Hannah, and let’s face it, the competition isn’t up to much. It’s Tom or Kev! Tom’s lucky in that if he stands next to Kev, he’ll look like someone with prospects, even though doesn’t have any. But he seems like a real catch because Kev is always so drunk.
Q: What does Tom see in Hannah?
A: She is lovely. She looks after people. She’s a very good person, she’s funny, and she’s fit. That’s three very good reasons.
Q: How would you assess Ricky’s directing?
A: He’s brilliant. He’s like a toddler in a playground who’s allowed all the toys and put in charge for the day. It’s like the Make a Wish Foundation – you can run the playground for today. You look at the results and think, “How did that turn out so well?”
Q: Would there be mileage in a third series?
A: Absolutely. I hope there would be a future in Hannah and Tom’s relationship. It would be a shame if Tom were killed off between series. It would be sad if the next series opened with someone saying, “I’m sorry to hear that Tom died at sea.”
Q: Why has the show proved so popular?
A: People love it because it’s so warm. In fact, it’s an unusually warm show. Now it’s established, the characters feel like one big family. We all hang out together in one room, and the atmosphere is lovely.
Q: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
A: I think it helps us reassess our view of old people. One of the treats of making Derek is that I get to hang out all day with old people. That’s not something I’ve done a lot. My grandparents are sadly no longer with us. There are not many opportunities for different generations to mix. It’s like Martin Luther King said: “Stick everyone together, and we’ll all be alright.” I’m paraphrasing.