Online Chat with Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz
Robert and Peter are the writers, producers and performers behind BBC TWO's hit comedy LOOK AROUND YOU.
This is the transcript of the Live Online Chat conducted Friday Nov 29th, 2002 at 22:00.
Host: Hello, and welcome to tonight’s Live Chat with Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz of Look Around You...
Host: We're ready to start with the first question...
Colin of Manchester asks: Have the BBC had any complaints from people not realising it`s a spoof? Eg: Germs don`t come from Germany you idiots.
Robert: We had a few complaints about the hand going into the boiling water. That's not a lot really.
Peter: 600 complaints all from the same person!
Visitor_anton: Who originally came up with the idea of the programme?
Robert: We got the idea from a tramp we met in Chichester.... Oh I don't know we remembered shows from when we were kids, and thought we'd make one like that, where people might think it is real. A bit silly.
Host: Thanks for your question woo :-)
Visitor_woo: Where did you find the giant white spherical building in today's programme?
Peter: It's actually a ping pong ball that we video dubbed into a field in Sussex. We filmed it close up so it looked like a big white laboratory!
Visitor_NyarthMaul: Any chance of a DVD or video of the series?
Robert: We'd love to do a DVD, because we could put the original film that inspired the series, about calcium, on the DVD. Yeah, we'd love to do a DVD.
Visitor_Daniel: How long did it take to make Little Mouse?
Peter: I dunno, not very long. We had different versions, we wanted to feature a song written by a computer and we had about 3 versions before we came up with Little Mouse.
Robert: It was originally called the Greatest Show on Earth, about ending up at this big circus. About a circus coming to town, the greatest show on earth, and the song was about how magnificent the show was without describing the contents of the show.
Peter: It was also going to be My Name Is Little Mouse, I'm going to sing and dance...
Host: Hi kozluk, Robert and Peter will be asking your fab question next...
Visitor_kozluk: Did you do lots of research into late 70s/early 80s schools programmes, or have you done it all from memory?
Robert: Most was from memory, we wanted to do an impressionistic thing about watching those lost shows. We watched about 40 of them on tape, mainly the ones made by a guy called Jack Smith. Roger's Hand, Beaumont's Castle, Physics in Action...
Kieran Dimmick of England asks: Fred Harris v Nigel Barrett. Who would win the battle of the narrators? (My money is on Fred.)
Host: Thanks for your question kieran...
Robert: If you mean Nigel Lambert, then Nigel Lambert wins every time.
Peter: - Nigel would win because he's got a robotic exoskeleton!
Visitor_gazzer: Germs do come from germany and many other countries. What country is the worst for germs?
Host: Thanks for your question gazzer...
Robert: Germany's first, then Austria, and Chad third.
Visitor_scarysheep: Will little mouse be released as a single? How about a CD compilation of all the music in the series? That would be excellent!
Peter: We hope so. We've recorded a full length version, it's been played on a few radio stations and might be in the shops in time for Christmas.
Robert: The B-side's called Big Mouse!
Peter: No, it's called Me and My Big Mouse.
Robert: Yeah, we'd love to do an album, hopefully we'll put one together.
Host: Hi monty, Robert and Peter will be asking your fab question next...
Visitor_Monty: Any chance of getting a copy of that periodic table?
Robert: Yeah, the table we show is the standard one from textbooks, so I suppose you could just photocopy that.
Host: Hi tobes, Robert and Peter will be answering your fab question next...
Visitor_Tobes: How did you pitch the idea for the show to the BBC?
Peter: We'd made this short film, like a 20 minute one, about calcium and we wanted to do a half hour show. We decided to condense it into the 10 minutes it's in now.
Robert: We took it to the BBC, but we were both dressed as wasps for the meeting. And that swung it really!
Host: If you've just joined the chat, we're LIVE from the bbc.co.uk Chat Studio with Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz.
Visitor_Muzzlerat: Were you influenced by satirical websites?
Peter: - I really enjoy the Onion.
Robert: - Framley Examiner as well.
Peter: - And TV Go Home is good.
Robert: - And Harris's Question.com. And the Bellringers site is good, Bellringers.com
Host: To send a question just type it into the box at the bottom of the page then press return/enter.
Visitor_eatthefrog: If we took sponges out of the sea, would the oceans drop?
Robert: Yo Eat the Frog, cool name! It would go down, yes, you're correct. Then it would rise up again. Then it would go down.
Strawman_special: What is the chemical symbol of cheese?
Peter: Big E little d. Atomic number 74.
Visitor_edr: I understand there was a 'pilot' made about Calcium: will that be shown on the BBC at some point?
Robert: Probably not on the BBC but possibly at film festivals. And if we do a DVD, we'd love to stick it on that.
Peter: But it might be shown on CNN.
Host: Hi NyarthMaul , Robert and Peter are ready to answer your question next...
NyarthMaul: What do you think of the idea of doing a parody along the same lines, but of English programmes like Look And Read?
Robert: Yeah, we always wanted to do one about language, part of which would be in a made up language. So yeah, we think that's a cool idea.
visitor_gexxo: What are your backgrounds? Have you worked in television long, and are either of you actually scientists?
Peter: I'm an actor, and I've done quite a bit of comedy. BBC2 and Channel 4 stuff. I was in this thing called How Do You Want Me. I was in the Phantom Menace. I'm about to be in the new Alan Partridge, this coming Monday.
Robert: I started at the Comic Strip with Peter Richardson and did different comedy stuff. I wrote something called You Are Here. That's how I met Peter.
Robert: I work at Channel 4 as a commissioning editor, and I've done a short film with Graham Linehan, who wrote Father Ted. I write for Jack magazine as well. And a US magazine called Methicamay.
Visitor_Obby: Where did you get the ideas for each program? Especially the sulphur one!
Peter: Well the sulphur one.. the basis for it was based on an incident in my science class at school. I ate some sulphur.
Robert: We both ate quite a lot of sulphur while we were making it!
Mister_Lee: How did you achieve the authentic 70s look to the show?
Peter: We made a time machine about a year ago, and filmed all of it in 1979. We were quite a bit younger then, so it took us quite a while because we kept messing around. We were schoolboys, essentially.
Host: Hi ruthie, Robert and Peter are ready to answer your question next...
Visitor_ruthie: There's a song on the periodic table (can't remember it's name) naming all the elements, have you ever thought of doing a spoof on that?
Robert: No! But we will do one, now. Sodium and lithium, da da da da da.
Peter: We'd like to expand it into an MGM type musical, or a religious work.
Visitor_lutek: How much of the programme is new footage, and how much did you dig up from of the BBC archive?
Host: Thanks for your question lutek...
Robert: About 95% is our footage, but about 30 seconds is old footage. Maybe even 96% is new footage. Petition the BBC for us to do a DVD. We wanna do a short film on the DVD, called Safety in the Lab, before you can watch the rest of the DVD you have to watch that.
Peter: We'd like to do a cartoon called Mad about Hexagons.
Robert: And a show called In the Nuddy, about your body and featuring lots of naked people.
Visitor_phil: Whose idea was bumcivilian?
Peter: It was my idea. All the ideas from the show are collaborations though.
Robert: Except for that one...
Visitor_Spike: Did you have any comic influences for the series?
Peter: Neither of us watch comedy.
Robert: We normally listen to political speeches....
Peter: When we do watch comedies, my favourite thing is the Simpsons. Robert's is South Park.
Robert: We like the old stuff, we're Leonard Rossiter fans, Rising Damp... Alan Partridge, the Office, Monty Python...
Robert: My Family is brilliant. If anyone has episode 4 of the last series, because that's a brilliant show. Superb, that show. It's the new Fawlty Towers.
Peter: Fawlty Towers is the old My Family.
Lucsta45: In my opinion Look Around You is the funniest programme i have seen in a long time, i'm 16 and i'd love to get into a similar kinda thing, how did u get into it?
Robert: How? Write something really and send it out to TV producers. Be enthusiastic and original. If you're enthusiastic and keen, and push at it, then yeah... wear a wasp outfit and you'll do well.
Visitor_spanners: If you'd been working for the BBC in about 1982, would you have made Nuclear Emergency public advice films?
Robert: We would have done films about the dangers of flooding. We were both very concerned about all matters to do with water, and flooding and.. I'm talking rubbish! It's the ravioli speaking, I've just eaten some.
Visitor_Sqidge: Why does the student, at the start of each programme, learn in an attic?
Robert: That's the best question so far!
Peter: That was an actual classroom in a school in Marylebone. The schoolboy is my brother James.
Robert: All the classrooms are in an attic.
Visitor_will: Is the show made on a relatively low budget?
Peter: It's quite high actually. Each show costs £800,000 to make.
Visitor_scarysheep: Any plans for a second series?
Robert: We'd love to do one, we want to do an episode called Further Maths, we don't know if we can yet. But who knows?
Sophie, 10, from France asks: Peter, how do you pronounce your name?
Visitor_Skagman: Have you ever gone back to your science teachers and asked them to play Look Around You to their class?
Robert: Hey Skagman have you got any skag? We're in a room with all our ex-science teachers now, and we'll ask them in a minute.
Peter: After we've taken some skag.
Visitor_cakeboy: If a kilogram weighs 1000g and a kilojoule is 1000 joules, does a kilo whale really have a 1000 teeth?
Robert: No a killer whale has 1000 legs.
Host: Just five minutes to go with Robert Popper and Peter Serafinowicz, Stay online to see what are the last questions to be asked.
Visitor_focusnet: I'm intrigued by the equipment used in the experiments... where can I get hold of a ringstand lamp clamp etc?
Robert: You can get them all from Dixon's. We nicked them from a hospital, actually. From a children's hospital. B.T.W. Peter made the Harrington 1200.
(Peter - laughs)
Host: Don’t forget to visit the website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/lookaroundyou
Visitor_Shroedinger: I feel inspired to try the pyramid experiment, but don't have a pyramid, or battery. Do you think a jar of marmalade wired up to a mild cheddar would work as well?
Peter: Yes, as long as the cheddar is carved in the shape of Hitler's head. But any marmalade jar will do.
Visitor_Comagirl: Are you in fact all that interested in science?
Robert: Not really, not particularly. A bit. But we don't read a lot about science. Peter reads more than me. I write articles and Peter reads them, scientific papers.
Visitor Errol: When you are writing, who has the last word?
Robert: Our mothers.
Host:That is all we have time for.
Robert: And blants. Thank you very much for your brilliant questions.
Peter: (The episode) Brain is on next week.