Motivating Mitchell and Webb
Scientists have known for some years that the universe contains a constant quantity of happiness that cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be re-arranged. Making a comedy programme essentially means creating a temporarily high local concentration of happiness and capturing it on camera. The best way to do this is to push all the happiness out of the surrounding area and onto the set, and it's something that I take great pride in as a producer.
Here's how it's done...
A lot of it is down to creating the mood for the cast. Each night David's trailer is decorated with fresh pictures of crying clowns holding dead flowers, and charity leaflets with slogans such as "Pedro wishes he wasn't a brutalised donkey either" are left on his chair. For Robert we cover the walls with poems of John Clare and some of the bleaker bits of Gerard Manley Hopkins, but muck the words about here and there to spoil the scansion so there is no chance of the grimness of the emotion being redeemed by the beauty of the verse. Sarah Hadland is routinely demoralised by workplace bullying and for James Bachman I simply order a cake every day and leave it out in the rain. Meanwhile Abigail is given hardly any funny lines and each day Mark is put in a cage and strapped to a rat's face.
But some days are special and you have to pull out all the stops. I remember once Robert arrived at 4.30 am and we removed his keys and shoelaces as usual and showed him his new walls. He'd read no further than "I am, yet what I am none cares or does know" when I brought him in a small ginger kitten. Robert loved that kitten, and played with it all morning until I came in, took it away and told him that it was David's kitten and David had had it killed but refused to talk about why. Then I left them together in a metal shed for three hours for no reason. That was the day we filmed the Laboratoire Garnier sketch, the murderous grammarian sketch and the Llama with a Lama sketch (which subsequently turned out to be too funny to transmit safely). It's things like that that make it all worthwhile.
For this week's semblance of interactivity why not tell me your second-favourite kind of cheese? I'm genuinely interested. Mine is Caerphilly. Or maybe Lancashire. Sorry if this is a tricky one.
Gareth Edwards is Producer of That Mitchell and Webb Look, which continues on Tuesdays at 9pm on BBC Two. Read more of Gareth's unique insights in the blog archive.