‘Don’t Forget the Coach’ – Toby Jones embraces versatility
Q: You’ve played some very charming, optimistic people and some very creepy, intimidating people. Do you have a preference or do you like to alternate?
A: I like to alternate. That’s the great joy of my job is I don’t seem to be trapped in one particular kind of role or indeed genre. I’m very happy about that.
Q: Did you have to learn how to drive a coach and is it tough to keep a straight face with the absurdity around you?
A: Yes, I did. … I did go and do coach driving lessons. I didn’t pass my test, but I certainly did loads of lessons. And we had a private place — a private track, a studio track we could use for most of the coaching. And anything we would do in public I would do with an official driver behind me. But I loved driving the coach. It was one of the great bonuses of it.
I don’t find it difficult keeping a straight face most of the time. Certainly, when you’re developing your own show, there’s the anxiety of making sure everything works OK that is enough to keep you with a straight face. As many, many people have said before, it’s a very serious business trying to make comedy.
Q: What were the challenges of shooting in the coach?
A: Like a lot of comedies now on British TV, we do them single camera. And in fact … certainly for the BBC, there used to be a comedy budget which assumed that the show would be shot in a studio. But gradually over the years, comedy has become more and more filmic in a way. It’s become more and more based on character and … there’s fewer studio-based comedies.
And certainly this one where landscape is such a key part of the story that you get to see different areas and aspects of Britain — not least the seaside where every week’s adventures take off from — it’s very important that they have scale and scope. So, there was that and then within the coach, we found different ways. The very inventive cameramen found different ways of shooting the interior of the coach, both in motion and when it was motionless.
George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.