BENCH­MARK FOR SUC­CESS

The lads on The In­be­tween­ers still have a bit of grow­ing up to do, which is just the way we like it. Guy Davis spoke with Blake Har­ri­son, who plays the dim ( and get­ting dim­mer!) Neil.

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we’re all turn­ing 18 and we’re all try­ing to get girls and fail­ing mis­er­ably. We’re not cool in any way, shape or form.”

And that might be the joy of The In­be­tween­ers. While many of us ( par­tic­u­larly blokes) might look back at our teenage years through rose-coloured glasses, imag­in­ing we were a bit slicker than we re­ally were, this show un­der­stands most of the time you were bum­bling around, try­ing to im­press the op­po­site sex or your friends … and some­times mak­ing a right mess of it.

“ When we did the first se­ries, I think we all thought it would go down well with teenage boys,” Har­ri­son said. “ Other than that, we weren’t too sure who would watch it!

“ But the fol­low­ing got big­ger and big­ger as the show went on, and by the start of the third se­ries it seemed that we had boys and girls as young as 13 – not that I con­done peo­ple that young watch­ing it! – through to peo­ple in their 50s and 60s. My dad’s mates watch it and say, ‘ We were do­ing stuff like that in the ’ 70s!’

“ That whole thing of be­ing un­able to put a foot wrong be­cause you just knew you’d cop a rib­bing from your friends, that whole thing about girls be­ing at the fore­front of ev­ery­thing, I think that’s some­thing a lot of guys can re­late to. It’s prob­a­bly a more height­ened ver­sion of what I got up to.”

Just as im­por­tant to the suc­cess of The In­be­tween­ers as its any­thing-goes sense of hu­mour, though, is the ca­ma­raderie be­tween its four main char­ac­ters. They in­ter­act so well to­gether it’s hard to imag­ine these guys haven’t been rip­ping into each other since they were kids.

But while ac­tors Simon Bird and Joe Thomas, who play Will and Simon re­spec­tively, al­ready knew one an­other from their uni­ver­sity days and were “ pretty much best mates” be­fore the show be­gan film­ing, Har­ri­son and co-star James Buck­ley ( who plays the sex-mad Jay) didn’t know one an­other or their cast­mates.

“ So it was re­ally just dumb luck that we all ended work­ing so well to­gether, I sup­pose,” Har­ri­son said.

“ Ac­tu­ally, Iain Mor­ris, one of the writ­ers and pro­duc­ers, said he knew the show could be funny when he’d cast all four of us and had us stand to­gether for a photo – he thought we just looked funny to­gether.”

Har­ri­son landed his part on the show by at­tend­ing an open au­di­tion with a bunch of drama-school friends.

“ We all just went down to try our luck, and as I was look­ing through the parts the only one I thought I def­i­nitely couldn’t do was Neil,” he said. “ I thought I was more like the char­ac­ter of Simon, more of a straight man who’s con­stantly sad that he can’t get a girl­friend – that was def­i­nitely me at 17!

“ But as soon as I got into the room the lovely cast­ing lady took one look at me and said ‘ OK, Blake, you play Neil’. And I in­stantly thought ‘ Oh, I’ve botched this!’ Be­cause I hadn’t even looked at Neil; I’d paid at­ten­tion to the other three parts. But I guess I did well enough for a call­back, and af­ter that I looked at Neil quite heav­ily. So it all worked out.”

He ad­mits, how­ever, that it took a lit­tle while to come around to Neil’s way of think­ing, so to speak.

“ The thing about Neil is that ev­ery­thing he says, he be­lieves,” he said. “ And it makes sense to him.

“ If Neil just says some­thing in a dumb way be­cause it’s his dumb line, it’s not go­ing to work. If it makes sense to you – in some weird, warped way – then it prob­a­bly will.”

Uni­form be­hav­iour: The cast of from left, Blake Har­ri­son, Emily Head, James Buck­ley, Simon

Bird and Joe Thomas.

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