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White Van Man Creator: Auditioning for a role in my own show

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Adrian Poynton Adrian Poynton | 11:26 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

For ages after I told my friends that I was writing a series for BBC Three, everyone would ask the same few questions: 'Who's in it? Can I come and be an extra? When will it be on?' And the question they asked above all - 'Are you going to be in it?'

It's a sensible question I guess. Most of them knew me as a stand up comedian and comedy performer as much as they did a writer, so of course they assumed I'd be in it. Truth be told, it wasn't until they started asking that I even really thought about it. I'd just been writing the thing and putting words in these character's mouths. I hadn't really thought about who would actually be saying them, let alone if one of them should be me. And was it even that easy? Just because I was the writer didn't mean I could just go - I want to play so and so - and that would be that.

White Van Man (Joel Fry as Darren, Naomi Bentley as Liz, Will Mellor as Ollie, Georgia Moffett as Emma and Clive Mantle as Tony)

The cast of White Van Man

I'd toured in plays and stuff, and worked my whole life as a performer... but I hadn't really done it in a few years and I don't really want to end up the guy surrounded by really amazing actors, screwing up his own script. Personally, I like to have someone else to blame.

But the question kept getting asked and I started to think, yeah, maybe I should do something. I even knew the part I should/could play. Martin the Policeman (I wont tell you his surname because it's a joke in the show - let's just say this. His surname is awesome).

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So then, one rainy day over a coffee in the production office I decided to 'put it out there' and I mentioned it to the producer. Bless him, he just smiled and said - 'Good. I think you should'.

He however wasn't the only one to convince. The Execs and more importantly the director had to give me the okay. Iain (the director) did something I love him for. He asked me to audition. And so he bloody should. He didn't really know me at that stage and although he knew I could write, when it came to acting, I might well have been a plank of wood.

Now, when I say he made me audition, he made me audition. I think Iain hoped I'd be good (mostly because he didn't want to have a very awkward conversation if I wasn't), but he made me audition properly, in front of him, the producer, the casting director AND then sent the tape to the Execs for approval. And so he should. It's not fair to anyone otherwise. You can't just point at a character you made up and go 'That's me that is.'

Ricky Grover as Terry and Will Mellor as Ollie in White Van Man

Ricky Grover as Terry and Will Mellor as Ollie in White Van Man

Lucky for me everyone laughed and nodded, I took Iain's direction and I got the part. I won't name names but I know a few actor/writers who wanted to be in their own shows who haven't been so lucky. Ouch.

So, how was it? I had the time of my life on set. I was just giddy. Being there, acting in something that fell out of my head was such an amazing experience.

How was it for the director? A nightmare I think. Turns out, I'm a giggler. I think I make it through 3 out of 5 takes. Hey, if you want a great outtakes reel, I'm your man. You want to film the show you're supposed to... yeah, that might take a while.

I've filmed TV stuff before and I have never been like that. Never had that problem. And I blame a few things.

  1. The silliness of the whole thing. I was acting in a show I had written. That's enough to turn anyone into a giddy child.
  2. I 100% blame Will Mellor, Naomi Bentley, Rufus Wright and Georgia Moffett.

They're all hilarious, tell the dirtiest stories and really make filming fun. The only difference between them and me (that day) was they could just turn it on and off when needed. I can normally do that... I've done it on countless acting jobs... just not the set for my own show apparently. At one point I had to walk off set and have a bit of a word with myself. I really didn't know what was happening to me.

White Van Man (Will Mellor as Ollie)

Will Mellor in White Van Man

Actually I did... because every time you looked up I could see the joy in Mellor's eyes that he was making me go wrong. I know for a fact that this was his plan all along. He's told me as much. 'Oh Adrian.' He'd said. 'I'm going to enjoy trying to put you off all day!' I laughed it off and told him if he did I would kill his character off for series two. It didn't seem to stop him. He's a devil that one.

But I think we got through it. I'm still in the show, didn't hit the cutting room floor.

Am I any good in it? Well, that's for you to decide. If you think not - well I'd blame Mellor and Co. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.*

*That's of course not true. I really do only have myself to blame.

Adrian Poynton is the writer and creator of new comedy series White Van Man. You can watch him play Martin the policeman in tonight's episode at 10.30pm.

Watch previous episodes of White Van Man

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    Love the series so far, very funny

  • Comment number 2.

    love this show very funny and i actually know people who are just like the caracters in the series,this show will be legendary in years to come.please make more.

  • Comment number 3.

    Although I had mentioned in an earlier comment that I would like to see Adrian play a part in his show, I did not recognize him until reading this blog. One of the main things I like about this show is that the comedy is not in your face. Very funny situations occur, but they are acted seriously, as if this is the way it is. Maybe this is what you Brits call dark humor. It is refreshing from an American perspective where overwhelming laugh tracks are added to the most mundane comments by characters in a program.

  • Comment number 4.

    I just luv the show. but it is very anoying, because every time I think something will happen between Liz & Ollie im mistaken. yesturday night my boyfriend and I watched it. after he had fallen to sleep I called the girls we were all so bovered by Emma & ollie 2gether it was uncomfotable. when will ollie make liz happy. if it isant bad enough that Liz has to suffer being related to the wanna be boy wounder.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fantastic, Brilliant, best thing since only foold and horses. When is season 2 appearing. Hope your not making us wait too long. Please please let me know asap.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant brilliant show, loved every episode! Ollie and Darren kill me everytime! Love Ricky too! Please please please make loads more, this could be one of the great ones....come on Adrian, keep em coming!

    Liz & Ollie 4ever !!!


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