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28 October 2014

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Jack Davenport
  "Steve takes a situation, digs himself a big pit of humiliation and shame, climbs into it - and just keeps digging."

Jack Davenport

Jack Davenport plays the hapless Steve, Susan's boyfriend and the father of her unborn child. Steve tries to be the voice of reason while talking to his mates over a pint, but more often than not he stumbles into more complex and ridiculous situations than any of them.

Writer Steven Moffat explains: "In the original version of the show, Steve was really as screwed up as his best mate Jeff, perhaps even more so. He can be just as erratic as Jeff can be, and certainly in the first part of the series, he remonstrates with Jeff for his madness. At the same time he tells Patrick off for being ruthless with women, and yet the evidence shows that Steve himself is a bit of a bastard. For example he asks Susan out on a date while he's having sex with Jane. He is quite typical of having all the same lusts and appetites as Patrick while also having the nervousness of Jeff and the new character Oliver. He forms a compromise of a politically correct weasel, which helps him to believe that he's a decent chap. Actually he's really too frightened of Susan to misbehave!"

Jack Davenport

COUPLING marks the first time Jack has done several series of anything, although "This Life" ran to lots of episodes, and he is delighted to be back: "It's like putting on an old pair of slippers! We all know how to pace ourselves by now, so enjoy the whole experience hugely. In many ways Steve doesn't change, but the relationship certainly has. He's still frequently at a loss for words and continues to despair at his own towering ineptitude. He takes a situation, digs himself a big pit of humiliation and shame, climbs into it - and just keeps digging. But he is completely without malice, which is fun to play."

He adds: "I think we can all identify with some of the situations. That's what's brilliant about Steven's writing. He turns the tradition of men and women in this kind of comedy on its head; the women are mainly confident and sexually quite voracious, whilst the blokes are completely useless, riddled with self doubt and awkwardness. Steve's good at getting to the heart - in a funny way - of a little boy that will not entirely disappear in every grown man."

Jack adds: "There's a great luxury in being aware that Steven is writing with us in mind. He sits in the corner whilst we're rehearsing and he's picking things up all the time. You have to be very careful about what you say, as you never know when it might appear in the script! He writes about situations in a way that is funny, surreal and subtle all at the same time. Some of his material is pretty frank, and he's not afraid to go for it. He's a bit of a farceur, which I see as a dying art; he has a wonderful ability to take a situation which seems pretty unworrying and by the end of half an hour it's got faster and faster and built into a ridiculous frenzy which could almost be real. Being both clever and very silly is a nice combination."

However much he likes playing Steve, Jack doesn't identify with him: "His life continues to be in disarray, whereas I'm settled and happy both personally and professionally." Jack married his actress wife Michelle Gomez shortly after the first series of COUPLING completed production. Michelle has just started filming a brand new series for Hartswood Films and BBC1 called CARRIE AND BARRY opposite Neil Morrissey, Claire Rushbrook and Mark Williams. The series reunites Neil with Hartswood, writer Simon Nye and director Martin Dennis - the team behind MEN BEHAVING BADLY which turned him into a household name.

Jack's film career is also very much on the ascendant. Having appeared in THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY as "the chap in the duffle coat jumping up and down in the background!". Jack appeared in THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN opposite Johnny Depp. He admits to finding it weird to be recognised on the set by the largely American crew as "the guy from COUPLING - it's very popular over there." Jack recently returned to the Isle of Man to appear in THE LIBERTINE also starring Johnny Depp.

Test your knowledge of Steve in the quiz.

Sarah Alexander
(Susan Walker)

Gina Bellman
(Jane Christie)

Richard Coyle
(Jeff Murdock)
Jack Davenport
(Steve Taylor)
Kate Isitt
(Sally Harper)
Ben Miles
(Patrick Maitland)
Richard Mylan
(Oliver Morris)

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