Johnny Vegas interview

He's been to Benidorm, now he's off to Blackpool. We caught up with Michael Joseph Pennington, better known as Johnny Vegas.

Johnny Vegas interview

Can you talk us through your character, Terry?

Terry is the long-suffering coach driver, he's a little bit jaded. It's Gemma's business - Terry's not been paid for a while!

When people start dying in suspicious circumstances, do Terry and Gemma realise that there's a murderer on the loose?

Terry is a lot more suspicious early on that something weird is going on when people start dying. I think Gemma is just kind of praying that they are accidents because she knows exactly what is riding on it, business wise. You've got a group of friends from the old folk's home, and there are people who know each other within it, but everybody has their strange little quirks that keep you guessing whether it could be them.

What's the relationship between Terry and Gemma like?

There is this underlying thing that he's been quietly smitten for years and that's been probably what has kept him in the job working for nothing, because he thinks the world of her.

Would it be fair to say there is some sort of will they/won't they chemistry going on between Terry and Gemma?

I think there is. I think Terry has kept it hidden quite well, though. I did share an idea that I had made things uncomfortable on the coach - I don't know how exactly, but there's that bit of awkwardness between them. But you know, it's much like Speed, that movie. You know, maybe it takes something like an extra push or a nudge to bring that chemistry to light. Speed is about how many relationships are based on stressful situations. And things start to happen on this trip which wouldn't happen on your average trip, you would hope. That sort of makes them a bit closer.

We were going to ask you about similarities to Coach Trip - Speed didn't even occur to us!

Well, I mean our coach wouldn't get up to speed anyway! We worry about getting it started - it makes unfortunate noises. It's like robot flatulence every time you shut the door.

How would you describe the tone: is it an out and out comedy, a drama, a whodunnit, a pastiche?

I think it's comedy played straight, which I quite like, so I think it's more comedy than drama. Apart from Griff who is enjoying himself! His character is big so I think he sits nicely within that - and that gives us a lot to play off, the fact that he is playing it hammy within.

Have you acted with any of the other cast before?

I have acted with Sheila (Reid) in Benidorm. I did Brilliant Man with Kevin and we did a play for the Manchester Festival, set on the Shopping Channel that broadcast live on the Shopping Channel. I think Una was over in Benidorm when I was on it, but I didn't have scenes with her. And I worked with Mark on Happiness years ago.

Not Sian?

No, never, and if I can be sincere for a minute, she has been absolutely fabulous. It's been a joy coming to work. We've had a laugh. I think what's genuine and what's nice is we've actually got on very well off camera, and I think that has formed what we've been doing on camera. You do want to believe that these two had something going on. You know, it's like the married couple without being married. In between takes we'd be sitting around having a giggle. In fact, there's been lots of corpsing. We've gotten on a bit too well, to be honest. I think across the board, to be fair, corpsing has been a bit problematic at times on this. It's when it's getting to half six at night and you can't finish the scene, and you suddenly start calling Garibaldi biscuits 'Baligaldi'.

Did you make Sian corpse?

Yeah but it doesn't matter if I have a glint because she will quite happily just turn her back on me. We spent a full day of filming and all she did was look in a fountain so she didn't have to look at me. When you see it, you'll go, 'Why is she looking at the fountain?', and you'll see the shoulders are going and she is corpsing through the entire scene. It was a really long scene!

In the cast, is there anybody in particular that you really looked forward to working with or meeting?

Nigel Havers was one for me. I was quite intimidated about Nigel and he has been fabulous. I always look forward to working with Kev and even on this he just throws something in every scene.

Who's your favourite detective?

Columbo. He is the master.

And what's the perfect murder?

The perfect murder is dropping a piano on someone. Just the satisfaction of that. It's got that kind of Laurel and Hardy-esque thing to it, you know what I mean? Or I'd push them off a cliff. A gentle push first, so they'd be clinging on, and then I could explain why I did what I needed to do before treading on their fingers.