Greg Davies: how to hire your hero in five easy steps
Routinely described as 'a fat Rik Mayall', comedian-actor Greg Davies explains how he got his doppelgänger-hero into his new show – sitcom 'Man Down'
Wed Oct 16 2013
Know 'The Young Ones' backwards
'All middle-aged people will tell you that there are no memories as vivid as those made as a child. Me and my misfit school friends (Sleepy Dick Baron, Farter Askley, Peter ‘Ten Eyelets’ Bellingham to name a few) had our minds blown by "The Young Ones". We had never seen anything like it and I remember running into school to recite dialogue and dangerously re-enact the violence (on Peter). This anarchic classic started my interest in comedy and we all agreed that the prince of its characters was Rik.'
'I met Rik for the first time over 20 years ago. I was a drama student and had performed a sketch at a hair extension show (no idea…). On our way back from dying on our arses, my friend Jed and I stopped to get a sandwich. In M&S, I went into my well-worn Rik impression and my friend started urgently nudging me and telling me to shut up. I ignored her only to turn round mid-impression and find Rik himself with a shopping trolley shaking his head. I ran out of the shop without looking back. For some reason, Rik does not remember this incident as well as I do.'
Physically morph into him
'When I was a child I looked nothing like Rik Mayall (I can prove it: my mum’s got photos). I can only presume I was such an admirer that my biology decided to pay its own tribute.'
Write a sitcom with a part for him
'During the development of "Man Down", it was a running joke that "obviously" he would play my dad. The part, inspired by my own dad’s sense of mischief, was clearly one that Rik could play with his eyes closed, but I didn't think for a second he'd say yes.'
Have him agree to do it
'When Rik agreed to meet and subsequently greeted me with the word "comrade", all I could think was: I can’t wait to tell Bellingham about this. Rik was a joy on set, a force of nature, funny, ambitious and professional… That I expected him to be like one of the mental characters that he has brought to the screen is a mark of his talent and my stupidity. You don’t make as many vivid memories in middle age, but Rik Mayall playing my dad and attacking me dressed as a bear will live with me forever.'
'Man Down' starts Friday October 18, 9.30pm, C4.
- Rated as: 3/5
Comedy writ large, from the initial fart joke to a pair of lost trousers and slapstick scenes so preposterous as to be surreal. Greg Davies is a newly dumped, middle-aged teacher living in a flat attached to the house of his mum and dad. Davies’s utterly silly but joyous classroom scenes could have you warming to this. Ageing ‘The Young Ones’ fans will love it.