James made his name as Jay in cult sitcom The Inbetweeners. Now he’s back for a second series of Dave's fantasy comedy Zapped, playing office temp Brian, who gets trapped in parallel universe Munty…
Zapped is pretty wacky. Tell us about the second series.
Yeah, it’s a weird idea. The first series was basically about Brian wanting to get home to the real world, but this time we see how he lives day to day in Munty, which I think is funnier.
Brian’s a bit of a loser…
He is! Back home he’s the idiot and nobody misses him. What’s interesting is that maybe he’s actually better off in Munty – there are people there who genuinely care about him.
How do you keep a straight face while filming?
We don’t! Comedy is fun because you’re working with people who make each other laugh. When I get a script, the first thing I ask is, ‘Will it be fun?’ There’s no point doing this job unless you’re having a good time.
Is that why you’ve turned down mainstream shows?
I’m drawn to projects that are a bit weird, I don’t know why. After something like The Inbetweeners, everyone wants you in their sitcom, but I don’t want to do anything I don’t believe in or I don’t think will be fun. I should be on TV a lot more than I am, but I’m very stubborn and it will inevitably kill me off professionally! Do you still get recognised as gobby Jay Cartwright from The Inbetweeners? I do! For it to still mean so much to people is amazing. I thought the show was funny when I signed up to it, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would!
Do you have any TV heroes?
Russell Brand is one of them. I grew up thinking I was going to be a painter and decorator or a postman, but he showed me you can come from Essex and make a career out of being funny.
Zapped, 12 Oct, 9.40pm, Dave
‘I should be on TV a lot more than I am!’
Brian’s life in Munty is a far cry from his life in the real world