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Little Britain interview

May 2006

MATT Lucas likes the coat. It’s the first thing he says after the hand-shaking pleasantries are out of the way and I take a seat in a bedroom at the Lace Market Hotel, which has been their base every time the Little Britain tour has been to town.

David Walliams is elsewhere, so we carry on with the coat analysis while we wait for him.

The knee-length black corduroy jacket in question that I have just dropped on to the bed is a £40 job from H&M. Not the sort of shop, I suggest, that he, Matt Lucas, top flight comedy celebrity, would frequent.

At which he pulls at his grey T-shirt.

“Five for $20,” he says.

Then Walliams, casual but suited, arrives and admires the bright orange Van Gils tie I’m wearing. It’s from TK Maxx but they’ve never even heard of the cut-price designer clothing chain.

I think I’ve proven my point but before I’m able to let the smugness wash over me there’s a camera in my face.

It seems that a BBC film crew has been following the pair on their UK tour for a documentary to be screened this summer on BBC 1.

Do I mind?

No, of course not. Make up!

It’s been a long tour — 125 down, 70 to go. Is it as hard as you expected?

DW: I think it’s been easier. Because it’s been fun. I was quite worried about the repetition but it always seems to come out differently. You know, if there’s a mistake, we embrace it and go with it. The show has never really been the same twice.

After three successful series and a huge tour, where else is there for you to take Little Britain? This must be the end.

ML: We haven’t played Croydon yet.

DW: Well, there’s the success which is the ticket sales but then there’s creatively what you can do. Look at a great artist like Caroline Aherne who had massive success with The Mrs Merton Show, then she had another great success with The Royle Family.

Which suggests your next project will be under a different name to Little Britain?

DW: Well maybe, yes. A different show, to create new characters, all those kinds of things, that’s what it’s about essentially.

A fourth Little Britain series would be pushing it, perhaps. Most hits like The Royle Family or The League of Gentlemen stop at three.

ML: Often it’s just two series.

DW: The Office is two plus a Christmas special.

ML: Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out and Fawlty Towers and Alan Partridge... so people were even surprised we did a third..

DW: The public see it a different way to the critics. They come up to us after a show and say “don’t ever stop doing this”.

ML: People are happy to keep seeing Only Fools & Horses.

Now I’m thinking you are planning a new series of Little Britain.

ML: We don’t know yet whether we are going to do more Little Britain or not but whatever happens we will carry on working together and we will carry on with some of these characters. Because we love these characters. There may be, one day, a Lou & Andy sitcom.

Or a movie?

DW: We’d love to do a movie but maybe a narrative story not a sketch film.

ML: There was a point where we could have definitely done Vicky Pollard: The Movie...

DW: We were asked to do it, but...

ML: We just thought actually Vicky Pollard’s great in three minute bursts but you don’t want an hour and a half of her.

Financially you’re in a very comfortable position where you can do what you like.

ML: I’ve got 12 pounds.

Five million each from this tour I read.

ML: Oh God, you read loads of things. We’ve both got mortgages.

DW: It’s all exaggerated.

But with the freedom to do what you like, it must be hard knowing what to do next?

ML: We do know what we’re going to do next but we’re just not saying.

DW: It’s a long way off. Maybe the end of next year we might have a new show on BBC 1.

You shared The Lace Market hotel with Oasis in February. Any gossip?

ML: Well, apparently, you know they’re rock’n’roll. Well, apparently, they didn’t make their beds. That’s what I heard.

On tour what do you get up to? We had Westlife in Nottingham last week and they were at the gym and playing golf.

ML: I do about four hours at the gym.

You’re doing the wrong exercises.

ML: How diplomatic.

DW: We generally write in the afternoon because we are doing our Christmas special.

Christmas special? That’s news.

ML: It’s a little bit different, there are a few new characters, but we don’t want to say what they are yet. We do about three or four hours of writing every afternoon.

DW: If I’d have known Westlife were playing golf, I’d have joined them.

Prior to this tour had you been to Nottingham?

ML: Most of my experiences were doing Just The Tonic. I used to love doing it. I know we came here with Shooting Stars as well. And I went to Center Parcs when I was 14. It truly is as wonderful as they say. It was one period of my life when I was slim.

DW: I’d not been here before Little Britain last year.

Any sightseeing?

DW: To be honest, because we’re working during the day we don’t get to see as much of places as we’d like.

ML: I went to the Argos when we here in November when I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here was coming on the telly and I bought a TV and video combi so I could record it and watch it after the show. Peter Kay told me that he’d come off stage after a gig and within half an hour he’d be on his bed with a cup of tea and a digestive watching Coronation Street.

Talking of Peter Kay, which of you is likely to be doing an autobiography first?

DL: There’s a book about us on tour which is coming out in September.

ML: It will be David because I can’t read or write.

DW: That’s the kind of thing you do later. Wayne Rooney’s what — 12? — and he’s got 20 out or something. Jordan had one out about what she was doing that week.

ML: There’s one about each of her breasts.

DW: I’ve got her latest book, actually. Will Young gave me a copy as a present after I did a podcast with him. I had a flick through and it’s a brilliant piece of work.

A lot of your comedy is un-PC but delivered under an umbrella of irony.

ML: You have to credit the audience with the intelligence to determine the difference between the ridiculous bigotry of a character compared to the political views of the performer.

DW: It’s interesting how if you do a character you can get away with a lot. Ricky Gervais does it. He always says he has this comic persona, it’s not really him, and he plays some really interesting games with the audience.

ML: Like what he said about Nelson Mandela. That it’s great he hasn’t re-offended.

How do you respond to the criticism of the incontinent character of your last series?

ML: Well, you can criticise it but it’s f***ing funny.

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