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"There's a bit of Jez and Mark in everybody" part two

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Cont'd from part one

You’ve both plundered yours and your friends’ past experiences for the show though, haven’t you?

JA: Yeah, the famous one is Iain Morris, who now writes The Inbetweeners, sh*tting in a McDonald’s bag because he couldn’t get to the toilet, which we used in Series 3. But we’ve done a few, there’s a birth episode in this series and I’ve got two children so I used a bit of that. Quite often you take a bit of something that nearly happened and extrapolate on that. But then a funny thing we used did actually happen to Sam when he sat on a boy who was trying to rob the video shop he worked in. In this series there’s an episode where Mark and Jez get trapped somewhere. That happened to Sam and I. But not for as long or as funnily as it is with Mark and Jeremy. It struck us as a bit we could use.

Russell Brand tried out for Super Hans [Jez’s best friend]. What can you remember about his audition?

JA: I was there the day he came in but I almost feel like I might have engineered this memory over the years because people always ask me about it. He just seemed like a very polite and pleasant young man. Although I do remember people talking about him having this crazy reputation at MTV as someone who would do all these wild and unpredictable things in nightclubs. But the thing that stopped him getting the part was that as soon as Matt King walked in for his audition he just was Super Hans.

Are there any plotlines that you’ve ditched for whatever reason?

JA: We had Johnson [Mark’s boss] commit suicide and that was not popular with anyone apart from us. And even we didn’t really like it.

SB: It only lasted one draft. We just all agreed that it felt a bit grim.

JA: Yeah, it was beyond Curb Your Enthusiasm levels. Mark was having a date and we were thinking what’s the worst possible news you could get at the best possible time? It seemed funny because Mark wasn’t going to tell her because it might ruin the moment, and she of course went, “Why the hell didn’t you tell me?” But we’re glad we didn’t do it because for one thing it meant we could resurrect Paterson Joseph [the actor who plays Johnson] who has been brilliant ever since.

You also co-wrote Four Lions. What was it like working with Chris Morris?

SB: You sort of expect him to be the Prince Of Darkness but he could not be more different to that in reality. He’s a very enthusiastic and bubbly guy who’s just infectious to be around. He demands a lot of you because he demands a lot of himself and wanted the film to be the best it could be.

Is it true that you did a pilot for Ant & Dec?

SB: We wrote a script, we met them and they couldn’t have been nicer. They didn’t do it in the end and I think that’s partly because doing a sitcom is quite high-risk compared to all the great hit shows they do. The hit rate for a sitcom is not great, so it was probably the right decision.

JA: We knew it would be quite exposing for them to do a new comedy show too.

SB: I think we were quite relieved in a way as it would have been a primetime ITV show and might not have really been us.

JA: It was very low-concept, it was just about them living together and playing fictional versions of themselves, essentially. I don’t think we’d embark on that now, not because they’re not great comic actors, but because those projects are such huge ships to launch. The risk you’ll f*ck it up is far too high.

Is it true you’re working on a TV project with director Danny Boyle?

JA: Yeah, it’s very early days but we’ve met him a few times. It’s pre being a proper project but we’ve had some meetings and we’d love to work with him.

Is it quite different to Peep Show?

JA: It’s too early to say really because we’re at that delicate stage where we’re just talking it through with him...

SB: We can, however, confirm that it’s not a cookery show. And it’s not a travelogue about the canals in West Lothian, that much we can tell you.

Peep Show Series 7 starts on 26 November at 10pm on Channel 4

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