Today we chat to Dan who is the writer and director of one of the newest comedy web series on the block. Tuesday Afternoon Kitchen is about a teetotal wine critic reviewing soft drinks on live TV. Since I work in Live TV i was intrigued to find out more and sat down with Dan to find out all about it.
Hello Dan, tell us about yourself and three random facts about yourself? How did you get into writing web series?
Hello! I’m a 40 year old writer and director from Kingston, Surrey. Three random facts; when speaking to my brother Adam I like to reference all these weird people my Mum knew through her church group when we were kids, I’m a Dad to six occasionally wonderful children and I have never, nor will I ever eat a mushroom.
Who are your comedy inspirations?
So many to choose from. Growing up I watched lots of comedy, Fawlty Towers, a dark comedy from Michael Palin and Terry Jones called Ripping Yarns (my brothers and I wore the VHS tape out twice), Spitting Image, The Young Ones etc. More recently I’m a big fan of Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, Steve Coogan and the golden god of satire – Armando Ianucci. Generally, I like comedy about interesting, outrageous and tragic characters.
Tell us about some of your other projects?
I wrote and produced a couple of comedy pilots that are currently doing the rounds on Amazon Prime Video. Most recently Spirit Breaker, which is about a man who’s on the run after escaping from prison for a crime he didn’t commit and falls in love with a retired sex worker from Cardiff, who takes advantage of his gullible nature on almost every level. It features Liam Noble of ‘Big Mad Andy’ (Peep Show) fame and it recently surpassed one million minutes streamed on the platform.
I also wrote and directed a short film last year called The Job Interview which is about a boss who invents job roles for people in the hope they’ll spend some time with him in the pub. It features Dean Kilbey and Josh Dinneen and is also on Amazon Prime Video.
Tell us about your latest project Tuesday Afternoon Kitchen?
I wanted to create a format that was cheap to produce but not lacking in terms of production quality as a result, and I’d had the idea for Rupert Sebacious-Smythe kicking about for ages. The prospect of putting a teetotal wine critic on live TV and have him carry on with his old job seemed funny, and the fact that he’d be tasting soft drinks and displaying over-the-top reactions and monologue style descriptions seemed like an amusing concept. The feedback we’ve had on it so far has been enormously positive so hopefully people are thinking the same thing!
Watching the first episode it feels like it is a sort of Parody of cooking shows like Saturday Kitchen mixed with something like the One Show – was this intentional if so why?
That’s precisely what we were after, hence the title actually. I always enjoy it when someone gets roped into going on The One Show or Saturday Kitchen and squirms for 20 minutes in the name of promoting their book, play or film etc.
It is also based around the concept of live television why do you think it is such a great environment to write a sketch show about?
Live television has that edge and the sense that anything can happen. These four episodes were filmed in advance but hopefully they maintain that live feel to lull the audience into worrying about what Rupert is going to say next. We’re looking at doing a fully live episode on Facebook, which I think would be the first ever sitcom broadcast live on the web, so watch this space.
What have been some situations on real live television that have made you laugh out loud?
I enjoy anything where the guest is uncomfortable. You can tell when they’ve been convinced into appearing by their publicist and they think they’re above it, just counting down the minutes until they can plug their thing. I remember seeing Hughie from Fun Lovin’ Criminals on Buzzcocks years ago and he was getting more and more annoyed with everything the presenters were saying. In the end he lost it and smashed a mug on the floor, all whilst trying to look calm and like he was in control. That was pretty funny.
The show is based around a Tee-Total wine expert called Rupert – was this based or inspired by anyone?
He’s not based on anyone specific, but I knew a guy years ago who was trying to give up the booze and was just unbearable with his complaining and whining about how unfair it was that he had to give it up. In terms of how out of touch Rupert is, I based that part on so many people. We all know someone to whom modern culture is totally irrelevant.
How do you get inspirations when you write?
Everything I do starts with the notes app on my phone. I’ll come up with a name, or I’ll remember something someone has said and just keep making notes until an idea forms. Then once I’ve pulled all the bits and pieces together I’ll transfer it to Final Draft so I can flesh out some dialogue and get a first draft going. It might come to something or it might end up stuck in my Dropbox folder forever without a title.
What challenges do you face?
Finding time to write uninterrupted. I have six kids and the youngest is 2 years old. He seems to have a sixth sense for when I’m feeling inspired and makes sure that I can’t concentrate on anything but him! So usually I have to leave the house and head off to a cafe somewhere with my laptop.
How did you get the idea of replacing the wine with soft drinks?
Rupert is currently teetotal, so he can’t review actual alcoholic drinks. I think if he did it would probably be quite boring. Giving him soft drinks means he’s got to be more inventive and he has to pull inspiration from the dullest of drink choices. An orange squash, for instance.
Out of all the ones that were used what was the one that tasted the worst?
The lamb bhuna energy drink which features in episode three was the one that invoked the worst reaction, from Simon in particular. The rest were all pretty benign fruit juices etc and actually tasted fine.
We have to talk about the host Simon, is he inspired by any presenter that actually works in live television?
His character was inspired by the actor that plays him, Tom Selway. As well as being an actor/producer Tom also presented Cardiff Live TV amongst other things. He interviewed Liam Noble, Simon Pengelly and I when we were promoting the pilot for Spirit Breaker and I wondered how I could cast him in something. He was, is and continues to be absolutely perfect for the role.
What are your future plans for the show?
Our plan is to fund privately and via the crowd to produce a six part second series, but this time with more characters and a larger set. Think along the lines of the set for Sunday Brunch on Channel 4 but with other messed up characters who’ve made extremely bad life choices without being entirely aware of them. Pre-production has begun and it’ll be out sometime next year.
If people want to find out more about you where can they go on social media?
They can visit www.facebook.com/tuesdayafternoonkitchen which is the main home of the show as well as on Comedy Crowd TV (www.comedycrowdtv.com). Rupert has just set himself up a Twitter account so go and follow him at http://www.twitter.com/mustntdwell
In three words why should people check out Tuesday Afternoon Kitchen?
Because its free.