This project feels very different for you guys, how did it come about?
About a year ago Rhys asked if the three of us could meet up. He’d already worked with Martin on the Brian Pern series, which we both loved. We immediately trusted his instincts for the idea and came up with a few more ideas for the show there and then. It seemed to suit that strange place Martin and I occupy, of being actors as well as musicians with a public family story and a band story that goes from the sublime to the ridiculous, to the sometimes out-and-out self-destructive. We also loved the idea of sticking a pin in the ego of our own celebrity.
What can you tell us to expect from the show?
It’s funny! We corpsed a lot on set which was great fun but held up the shoot a bit. It’s basically a mockumentary about our lives and relationship, presented by Rhys’s own character, Rhys Thomas OBE. A spoof of the imagine... type series, with all its usual obsequiousness, but a much cheaper version with poor research!
I’ve seen it a few times now and still discovering stuff that Rhys has subtly put in. Rhys had researched us both brilliantly for the script and we loved taking our different character traits and our perennial tales and puffing them up into caricatures and exaggerations. At least I hope they’re exaggerations! There’s a lot of blur between what is fact and what is fiction. At times on set even I forgot which was real and which wasn’t.
There’s also an amazing wider cast - did you know any of them beforehand? How easy was it to get them involved?
Yes, we have the great Daniel Mays. I’ve seen a lot of his stage work and love him. I met him backstage when I did Pinter’s The Homecoming. Chris Eccleston has worked with Rhys a few times and likes being in Rhys’s work, so it was a thrill to have him on board, as it was Alan Ford.
Having Anna Maxwell Martin as my wife was so lovely, as she has great natural comedy in her work. Perry Benson, who plays our other brother, we both knew from our days at Anna Scher Children’s Theatre when we were kids. And Simon Day is a comedy legend! The scene with him and Lucy Montgomery was so much fun to shoot. Plus, the wonderful Tony Way, we were very lucky to have such a stellar cast of brilliant actors.
Did you know Rhys work beforehand?
Yes! I loved the Fast Show and Nathan Barley and thought his writing and directing on Brian Pern was so accurately observed.
How much was scripted and how much was improvised?
Most of it was scripted, but we’d usually do some improvisation around each scene. Some scenes we didn’t know what was going to exactly happen and we just let them play out with Rhys’s guidance, but by then we knew what kind of characters our real-life selves had become, if you see what I mean, which made it easier.
How’s it working with Martin again?
It’s a total joy to work with Martin again - mining our own histories for comedy and pathos as well as building on the fiction that Rhys had given each of us. We both went into this head first with a lot of trust. It felt totally mad at times, but we knew we had to commit to the idea 100 percent or it wouldn’t work. Improvising with him came very easy, especially in the ‘interview’ sections, as we had so much of our own stuff to draw from!
Which of you is more like the version of yourself we'll see in the show?
Growing up in working-class London in the 60s and 70s, being child actors and then being in an 80s band comes with a lot of funny, easily parodied experiences and references but also allows us to over-do the nostalgic memories that you hear all the time in interviews. No one ever tells the truth in celebrity interviews anyway! They are usually awash with pomp and fake sincerity and self-importance and I enjoyed pushing my character that way! Scarily it seemed rather natural!
What else have you got coming up?
I was meant to be on tour with Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets this year but it’s been cancelled till October. We’ve got a live album and film coming out later in the year too. Like everyone else we’re isolating and I’m finishing up my own solo album as much as I can in these sadly separated times.