What made you so keen to get on board with Sandylands?
It all starts with the script, and this one is brilliant. I'd been looking for a comedy to get involved with for quite a while. As anyone will tell you, great comedy is hard to come by. There's so much skill involved in getting it right. But as soon as I read the first script of Sandylands, I fell in love with it. Saying yes to it was just a no-brainer.
Were you familiar with the world conjured up in Sandylands?
Absolutely. I'm from Blackpool and I grew up by the seaside. I really know this world. It was great to be able to draw on that. The brilliant thing about this series is that it introduces you to the sort of characters you don't see all the time on TV.
How would you summarise your character, Terry Chino?
When he gets introduced as a double act with his wife onto a small stage that he thinks is Wembley Stadium, his first line is, "She's been deported." That tells us so much about the character. When I read that line, I thought, "Yes, I have to get involved with this!"
He's quite a tragi-comic figure then?
Terry is quite bitter. At heart, he's a kind man, but he's very disillusioned with what he does for a living. He thinks entertaining a crowd is the equivalent of saving the world. He thinks he's on a par with Bob Geldof, but he is actually just a mediocre end-of-the-pier entertainer, which, as you can imagine, is a lot of fun to play. Growing up in Blackpool, I remember seeing those sorts of people all the time. They thought they were changing the world, but they were just entertaining tourists. There is great comedy in the fact that Terry takes it so seriously.
Was is fun filming Sandylands?
Totally. The show has more talent than you can shake a stick at. It was fantastic company to be in. If I could pick who I could work with, this is the bunch I would choose. It was one of those jobs you feel lucky to be part of.
Will viewers recognise Terry?
Definitely. We love eccentric characters like that and we see them all the time. We all know a Terry. But everybody is relatable in Sandylands. That's a testament to the writers. Everything comes back to the script and the care and attention that the production company have put into the script.
Why does the seaside setting work so well for Sandylands?
I have a particular love/hate relationship with the seaside as I grew up with it. In its heyday, Blackpool was full of tourists, swamping the promenade in the summer. It was a lot of fun. The seaside was the place to go. It's where the fun happened and kids were let off the leash. But I also saw the dark underbelly of it. Once they turned around the "no vacancies" signs, the seaside could be quite bleak. There were no tourists there, and all you could hear was the seagulls. There was something sad about it. But with sadness comes great comedy.
How did you find it working the director, Michael Cumming?
He was wonderful. The prospect of working with him was a big pull for me. He directed my good friend Matt Berry in Toast of London. He comes with a great pedigree. Michael always serves the script, but he lets you play around and makes sure the comedy pings off the page
What do you think viewers' reaction to Sandylands might be?
Hopefully they'll have a lot of fun watching it. There is a lot of bleakness in the world right now. We all need to kick back and go to Sandylands. It's a great place to relax - for some people, but not necessarily these characters!