Peter Capaldi on directing Getting On
But what's it like to direct a comedy show that deals with such grim subject matter? And how do you direct a show after starring in one with such a distinct style? Peter explains...
"Armando [Iannucci] has developed a technique that is totally his own, and I've been lucky enough through The Thick Of It to see it in action.
Once you've been a part of it, it seems daft to go back to a more conventional way of working, particularly with this kind of realistic looking comedy. When the girls asked me to direct Getting On it just seemed the most obvious way to go. So we've a lot to thank him for, both in terms of the shooting style and our approach to the work.
The delightful thing for me was to work with such talented people as Jo, Jo and Vicky. The characters that they created and the situations they put them in were so funny and stimulating. I had a few script meetings with them to flag up where I thought things might work better structurally, but ultimately it's all their doing.
Working with Unison the nurses union who helped us out in our research was extremely useful. Obviously we always knew Lily was going to die, but what was great was being able to ask what the actual procedure was when a death occurs. I asked our contact to go through absolutely everything that had to be done when a death occurs, which is what Sister Flixter, Nurse Wilde and Dr Moore actually do. But the most surprising and moving thing to discover for me was that it was enshrined in the rules that no one should die alone. Therefore if a death is likely, and there are no relatives or friends in attendance, a member of staff has to be given the role of being with them. In this case Sister Flixter. And that gave us our first scene.
We were so lucky to get Ricky Grover who plays the part of Hilary Loftus brilliantly. He's a remarkably sensitive and funny performer. I also liked the way there was something of the old "Doctor In the House" movies about his name. A quiet tribute to James Roberstson Justice perhaps.
Also, we were blessed with a wonderful collection of old lady extras to play our old ladies. OK it doesn't sound the most taxing of jobs, sitting around in bed all day, but remember they had to act and put up with my impatient directions.
I appeared briefly in last week's episode. I found it a bit difficult as my hands were pretty full directing the show and I didn't want to have to watch myself as well as everyone else. Basically we didn't really have anyone else around so I jumped in. I'm a psychiatrist. And a very nice one too. With an astonishing resemblance to Malcolm Tucker.
There is a woman in the episode who possibly could be Malcolm's mother. But I think she abandoned him at birth and he was brought up by pixies who lost a much of their family when their den was crushed under a carelessly delivered skip, making them bitter and twisted, hateful and unusually interested in the political process."
Can't wait until the next episode on TV? Here's an exclusive video with Jo Brand's character, Nurse Wilde:
Read more about Getting On and watch exclusive character clips right here on the Comedy Blog.