How Not To Live Your Life: Filming Diary part 2
Noel Fielding as Marcus, Sarah Hadland as Karen and Dan Clark as Don.
The shoot for series 3 was possibly the hardest one yet. Even though series 1 was the most stressful, this one was the hardest. On the first series I co-directed it with Gary Reich. It was a kind of a mistake. Not because we did a bad job. I think we did a great job, in fact. But trying to act in every scene whilst having the kind of pressure on you as a director is incredibly draining. I think my performance suffered a tiny bit because of it.
Series 2 was much easier because we hired a director in. This took a huge amount of pressure off. Even though I'm heavily involved in the production side of things, I was allowed to concentrate a bit more on my performance. The scripts for series 2 were much better too, so we were all feeling way more confident.
So for series 3 we decided to go with a new director again. Mainly to keep the show fresh, but we also liked the idea of giving each series a slightly different flavour. We hired Sam Leifer, a new kid on the block who's a passionate and creative talent.
The main reason series 3 was possibly the hardest yet, was not only because we shot longer scripts, with huge set-pieces in each episode (there's a musical, a bar brawl, a massive fancy dress party, country house, guns, running, and 50 speaking parts) but also because of the three weeks of night shoots. And we shot seven episodes instead of the usual six. The seventh is a Christmas Special of sorts. It's not set at Christmas but the story involves Don joining Eddie's local theatre club and putting on a musical - so it's festive. And it'll go out at Christmas.
We also had lots of brilliant cameos too. First up was Rupert Vansittart, playing the dad of a very posh girl Don dates. Rupert is probably best remembered for his excellent performance in Four Weddings and A Funeral, in which he corners Hugh Grant in the hotel bar and utters the phenomenal line "I was at school with his brother Bufty. Tremendous bloke. Buggered me senseless. Still, it taught me a thing or two". He was absolutely brilliant on our shoot and a pleasure to work with. As were Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Jessica Knappet, who played his daughter and her best friend.
The following week we were graced with Noel Fielding's (The Mighty Boosh) presence. Noel's an old friend of mine. We met in Edinburgh, during the festival, back in 1999. We've remained good friends since. He said to me a few months back that he'd love to do a small part in the show. I suggested we try and put him in a part that was totally against type. A part no-one would expect to see him play. "Good idea" he said. "I should play a black athlete". I told him that might be pushing it a bit far. And anyway, I hadn't written a black athlete anywhere in the show.
Noel Fielding as Marcus and Dan Clark as Don
We had a lot of fun. Possibly at the expense of the shoot. We kept corpsing. Noel's ability to adlib is effortless. Often all he does is add one new word to a sentence and it'd catch me off guard and have me in hysterics. He's also got an incredibly odd face. Only really noticeable when he has his hair slicked back and in a side parting. He's often hard to look at without laughing. Seriously, I've never known someone with so much sex appeal, yet so odd-looking.
That same week we had two other brilliant cameos - Sarah Hadland (from Miranda, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Moving Wallpaper) and my old comedy colleague Adam Goodwin. Years ago, I used to be in a sketch act called Electric Eel with Adam and Cliff Kelly. It was great to get them both in the series, albeit in smallish parts.
Make sure you check back here next week for the third installment of my filming diary and if you missed it you can read part one now.
Dan Clark stars as Don and writes How Not to Live Your Life. Series 3 starts on BBC Three in November.