Blake Harrison – The Inbetweeners Interview

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 06: Actor Blake Harrison speaks during 'The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret' during the Rainbow Networks portion of the 2010 Summer TCA pres tour held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 6, 2010 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Just when we thought they’d done it all, our favourite awkward teens returned to our screens with a brand new side-splitting series of The Inbetweeners. We caught up with Blake Harrison (aka: Neil) to find out more about the new series and if there is actually any truth in those film rumours…

The new series of The Inbetweeners has just hit our screens. When you first started filming, did you have any idea how much of a phenomenon it would eventually become?
No, we had absolutely no idea! If I’m honest, I think we were all just happy to have a job – simple as that! It was just fun to be able to go into work and have a laugh with the other lads ‘cause we all got on really well, really quickly. We were really just messing around a lot of the time and we couldn’t believe someone was paying us to do that! We had no thoughts of a second series – you always hope for that kind of stuff when you start a new job but we never really gave it too much thought. The writers actually joked quite often that nothing they had ever done before had got a second series so we weren’t hoping for too much!

That wasn’t a great start then…!
No, not at all. [laughs]

You’ve had to film a lot of embarrassing scenes for the show. Are there any that stand out for being particularly humiliating to film?
For me, the worst one has to be walking around Thorpe Park in a pair of Speedos during the first series! No one knew who we were at that point and they didn’t shut off the park so people were literally just seeing a group of four random guys walking about and one of them was in a pair of Speedos! When you’re on a closed set it’s a lot less embarrassing than when your parading around like that in front of the general public.

Which of the four actors do you think has had the worst time of it when filming?
It would have to be Joe [Thomas, who plays Simon] when he had to get his ball out during the fashion show at the start of this series!

I didn’t think things could get any worse for him after he had to strip naked on that boat during the school trip!
I know! When they filmed that scene, they actually got him to get his ball out and the people who were in the fashion show audience weren’t told what was going to happen – they just thought they were going to watch a little fashion show. It worked really well because they managed to catch real reactions from them on camera!
Joe had to put up with all of that and I think that is incredibly hard to do – he literally has balls of steel he does! [laughs]

Who do you think is the most like their character in real life?
I think it’s a close call between Simon Bird who plays Will and Joe Thomas who plays Simon. I’m going to go for Simon Bird being most like Will. I mean, he’s abit more self-aware and socially aware but I would say in terms of mannerisms and the way he speaks in real life is very much the same as Will!

Do you find it hard not to laugh when you’re filming scenes? I wouldn’t be able to keep a straight face!
We’re constantly told off for laughing – there’s always one scene during filming for each series during which we’re laughing so much that literally everyone has a massive go at us but we can’t help it!

Which ones?
The main one I remember from series two was when we were all in the toilet cubicle at the underage disco waiting for Will to come in and he opens the door, sees me sitting on the toilet and just ‘What is happening in here?!’. Every time he opened the door we were all just absolutely wetting ourselves with laughter! Another one in series three was a bit in last night’s episode when we were all outside trying some weed and we were all just cracking up the whole time!

Do you have a favourite memorable phrase from the show?
Hmm… there are quite a few good ones! I quite like the sillier ones rather than just the gross ones… I like it when Jay calls Will ‘Professor Wood’, I’ve always found that quite funny! And I love it when Alex McQueen who plays my Dad in it always says ‘Oh Neil’ – he does it in nearly every scene he’s in and we just find that hilarious!

Is there any truth in the rumour that you’re planning on doing a film next year?
Yes, yes there is! We actually filmed a weekend’s worth in Malia on the strip when it was packed and we’re going to film the bulk of it January for about seven weeks or so. I’m assuming it could be out sometime next summer or autumn but I’m not 100% sure yet.

Is it going to be on the big screen or more like one long extended episode on TV?
It’ll be a feature film that’ll be out in the cinemas and it’s going to show the boys going on a lad’s holiday to Malia. I think it’ll be the same old idiots on a slightly grander scale! I think the writers are very aware of all the pitfalls of a successful TV comedy show making a feature length film but the writers are really intelligent and funny guys and I think what they want is for it to be able to stand alone as a film. They want people who haven’t ever watched The Inbetweeners to be able to go in, watch the film and enjoy it as much as fans of the show.

We don’t really have any big British teen comedy films. Do you think it could be like the British version of American Pie, Road Trip, etc?
Yeah, I think there’s a massive gap in the market for a British teen comedy like that and I think we would have a really good audience for it as well! Hopefully it will all work out and go well but, as always, you never really know in this business.

So, what else do you have planned for the future aside from the working on The Inbetweeners’ film?
The main thing I have coming up next is a sitcom I filmed with two of the guys from Arrested Development [a big American sitcom], David Cross and Will Arnett. It’s about an American guy who comes up over to Britain and it’s going to go out in the states and over here as well. I’m not sure exactly when it’s airing here but it should be around November/December time on More4. It’s called The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret and I have pretty high hopes for it because I think it’s really funny. I’ll also be doing a few bits and bobs here and there but the main things I’m going to be working on are obviously The Inbetweeners movie and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret!

To find out more about The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret click here.

By Amy Anderson