‘It feels like maybe this is the best se­rieswe have done’

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - WEEKEND TV -

Mix to­gether three young men des­per­ately try­ing to climb the so­cial lad­der, the colour­ful set­ting of An­cient Rome and plenty of naughty hu­mour and what do you get? ITV2 com­edy Plebs, that’s what — and it’s back for a fourth se­ries.

The new episodes kick off with the lives of Mar­cus (Tom Rosen­thal) and Gru­mio (Ryan Samp­son) be­ing thrown into tur­moil by the sud­den de­par­ture of fel­low Pleb, Sty­lax. But, then, dippy blond builder Ja­son ar­rives and they de­cide open­ing a new bar as a trio could be their chance to fi­nally make it in the big city.

“It feels like a new di­rec­tion that it’s all go­ing in,” re­veals Samp­son (32). “It’s a big re­boot se­ries. I’m re­ally re­lieved, per­son­ally, that I’m watch­ing it go­ing, ‘Ah, it’s re­ally good!’ It feels like maybe the best se­ries we’ve done.”

The big­gest change this se­ries has to be Jonathan Point­ing join­ing the cast as Ja­son.

“I’d seen Jon’s Ed­in­burgh show and I thought it was ab­so­lutely amaz­ing,” says 30-year-old Rosen­thal, who also stars in Chan­nel 4 sit­com Fri­day Night Din­ner. “We had a few chem­istry read­ings with a num­ber of ac­tors and we were anx­ious to know who would be the new guy. But we know that they’re very good at cast­ing and I think they found the most tal­ented guy out there — he’s a bril­liant ac­tor.”

An­other new face to Plebs is Robert Lind­say, who dons a toga to play crooked prop­erty de­vel­oper Cras­sus. And Lon­don-born Rosen­thal re­veals the My Fam­ily star was “re­ally ex­per­i­men­tal”. “The di­rec­tor told us that when he first said he was go­ing to do it, he wanted to im­per­son­ate Don­ald Trump, or some­thing like that,” he says with a puz­zled laugh. “He’s very, very cre­ative. He’s great.” Episode two sees the Plebs try­ing to get their new bar and restau­rant, The Crown and Toga (which, hi­lar­i­ously, has been built in an aban­doned toi­let) off the ground. And this is where Ol­lie Locke’s char­ac­ter comes in.

The 30-year-old TV per­son­al­ity, who has starred in Made in Chelsea since 2011, plays Aloy­sius — who deems him­self above vis­it­ing the es­tab­lish­ment, un­til he re­alises Rome’s fore­most food critic has given it a very favourable re­view.

“I didn’t want to f*** it up, that was the main thing,” Locke ex­claims when asked if he was ner­vous go­ing onto set in Bul­garia. “I’ve been act­ing a long, long time, but that was al­ways a mi­nor worry. I was like, ‘I’m sure I’ll do okay’. But hav­ing to learn lines again was weird. It’s def­i­nitely a new chal­lenge from what I was used to.”

And the flam­boy­ant star, who was ac­tu­ally born in Southamp­ton, re­ally en­joyed get­ting into his char­ac­ter — a ver­sion of a trendy east Lon­don hip­ster.

“They wanted him to be a bit posh, I as­sume gay and a bit ridicu­lous — that’s where it came from. It’s a fairly well-stereo­typed, very trendy side of me. I don’t usu­ally wear a gold neck­lace.” WHEN IN ROME:

Af­ter the ini­tial nerves, Locke re­ally en­joyed do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent on screen — and it’s clear from their jok­ing around when we meet that he, Samp­son and Rosen­thal had fun film­ing to­gether.

“For me, es­pe­cially, set­tling into re­al­ity stuff the last seven years, it’s quite nice to go back to even sil­lier stuff, where it’s not talk­ing about my own love life,” he adds with a smile.

As well as the Plebs’ foray into the world of food and drink this se­ries, there’s an episode where they get free tick­ets to a spa, which they then de­cide they’re never go­ing to leave, so hatch a plan to use it as a squat. So, all the usual fun and games then? “I think we’ve been do­ing it for so long now that it be­comes a bit sec­ond na­ture,” re­marks Samp­son, when asked about get­ting into the headspace of the role. “So, these char­ac­ters we play, we know how they’d re­act in any sit­u­a­tion.”

How­ever, the Rother­ham-born ac­tor di­vulges Gru­mio has evolved over the show’s run.

“The first se­ries, Gru­mio was re­ally placid all the time and then it was re­ally funny, but it has a fi­nite life. I had to make him a bit more front-foot and kooky in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions, so it’s be­come a dif­fer­ent sort of char­ac­ter.”

Is it nerve-rack­ing de­cid­ing to take a dif­fer­ent ap­proach with a role?

“It is a bit ac­tu­ally,” Samp­son ad­mits, be­fore re­call­ing scenes in the bar in which head-chef Gru­mio gets, well, rather an­gry.

“It felt like a dif­fer­ent edge to the char­ac­ter, which is ex­cit­ing to be do­ing in se­ries four, to be push­ing it for­ward a bit.” Plebs, ITV2, Mon­day, 10pm

(from left) Jonathan Point­ing, Ryan Samp­son and Tom Rosen­thal. Be­low, Robert Lind­say in tele­vi­sion com­edy Plebs

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