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TV Interview

Lucy Montgomery

By
Lucy Montgomery
With the DVD of the first season out now and with a new series underway on BBC Three, Tittybangbang is making serious waves amongst viewers, with many predicting that a Little Britain-style phenomenon is on the horizon.

The sketch show - co-written by Bob Mortimer under a pseudonym - was launched earlier this year and treated viewers to a winning combination of shocks and laughs. For a fine example just check out the video clip at the bottom of the page - if you dare...

We were lucky enough to grab Tittybangbang star Lucy Montgomery for an examination of why our funnybones are left so tickled by her antics...

How did the concept for Tittybangbang come about?
"It was actually Bob Mortimer's idea, and I auditioned for it - when I turned up, there were all these characters in place. I brought them the 'don't look at me, I'm shy' character, and I think originally, they knew BBC3 wanted more female-led comedy, they didn't have a female sketch show, so they wanted to do that. So, one with over the top characters rather than middle-class, naturalistic acting. They wanted something a bit more over the top, which they got!"

Bob Mortimer writes it, but under a pseudonym. Everyone knows it's him now - is he going to write under his real name at any stage?
"I don't know, I've got a copy of the CD now and he's got his name on the back, and it does say Bob Mortimer. Through the first series, he did say 'I want to protect you and Debbie, you might get people saying stuff about Vic and Bob - you don't necessarily want that, this is your show' and we were like 'yeah'. I think it was that. But some reviews have said - it's very like Vic and Bob, and they didn't know, so I think it can only help, really. He appears in some of the sketches this time around. Special guest stars! Playing Peacock's brother and he appears in a new Scottish sketch called Salty Tales, he makes a guest appearance in that. We were all very excited to be acting with Bob Mortimer. We didn't tell him - we pretended we weren't bothered."

Is he ever going to drag Vic Reeves along?
"That would be be brilliant! We should try and make that happen if we get another series, I'd love that."

You mention a DVD of the first series. I heard it has a lot of unseen extras?
"I know, I haven't seen any of it. What the hell is on it? I'm going to go and watch that later. I've seen them from the outtakes ages ago, but I don't know what the behind-the-scenes feature is. Bob did the audio commentary. Why it wasn't us I didn't know! Probably cos he's famous and we're not. Unseen sketches, well that'll be the weaker material that didn't make it - the extra material there was no space for!"

Good PR, that!
"I'll say to be evil, 'those are all Debbie's solo characters', haha. She'll love that."

The first series of Tittybangbang has been labelled 'horrid and filthy, but funny' and it contained stuff like necrophilia and urine-drenched canines as sources of humour. Do you feel any pressure to up the ante for the second series?
"We've kind of gone the other way because the necrophilia character, that's gone because public opinion was that that wasn't a good idea. We've got no more weeing on ladies' dogs - it's actually gone the other way, cos I don't think you need to be shocking for shocking's sake. That can detract from the other material. People can get turned off by it. You want to please as many people as humanly possible. Mainstream is not a bad thing. It's still got an edge and the character are still strong characters, massively over the top and silly [but] in Series 2 it's got less of the shock factor."

Are you going to introduce any new characters?
"Yes, I play Tom Cruise, actually, and his entourage. I had these brilliant prosthetics so I actually looked like him - I couldn't believe it - when they put the wig on me I was like 'I look exactly like Tom Cruise'. So I must look quite like a man anyway, which is quite creepy. His entourage, I take them around to really mundane places like sweet shops, and they all squabble over what sweets they want, and I'm in the middle going 'come on, man' and being really over the top and suddenly manic in the way he is. There's also - we play two mad horsey ladies who have very large teeth and like to watch semi-naked men cavorting and most of the characters are there. Debbie does this brilliant character - she looks quite like a troll when she does it, it's really hard to explain, it's one of Bob Mortimer's, so it's quite bizarre - no one else could have written it. I'm not explaining it very well. It's a woman - no, it's a man...I'm really confusing you now. It's like a Scottish pub and he tells tall tales and we all do a dance at the end. It doesn't sound funny..."

Apart from this new character, are some of the creations, like Maxine Bendix, modelled on anyone in real life?
"Sadly, I don't think that they are. I don't know who came up with Maxine. I know that would be good, you do get those monstrosities - nobody I know, sadly. No. Sorry."

Has there been any sketches you've filmed where you've thought 'they couldn't possibly show that on TV'?
"My taste threshold is quite low, so I'm probably not the best judge of that. The necrophilia one in the first series - probably a lot of people would go 'you can't show that'. I'm quite amenable to all those things. The thing is that there was a trend for pushing more and more black humour, so I think now programmes will pull back from that. At the time of Series 1, there had been Nighty Night, which was very dark, there had been a trend for that kind of thing."

Are you hoping one day to move from BBC3 to BBC1, like Little Britain?
"Yeah, that's the dream. We had two specials on BBC2 last time, so I imagine that the material is more suited. To get on BBC1 you have to be massive and mainstream, and we would love to get on BBC2, it's more realistic, they have a younger audience, they're allowed to be edgier, so possibly, but we'll see, it would be good."

Would you ever like to do a live stage show version a la Little Britain?
"Oh yeah! There's talk of thinking about doing that. I'd love to do it, Debbie would love to do it. It would be the best thing. For the second series, we did a live studio recording, and it was such good fun. You just think, 'this is better than doing it in front of the crew! Why can't we have all these people there all the time!' I'd love to do that, definitely."

What shows or performers do you feel paved the way for Tittybangbang?
"Well, certainly in terms of women in comedy, Julia Davies with Nighty Night. I really admire her. I couldn't believe it - when I saw the first series, I just thought it was brilliant. Having her own series on BBC3 meant they thought it paved the way for more women to try out. It's all written by women - there's another series called Doghouse, so she set the ball running there. Who else...also, Little Britain was very daring with its taste boundaries, it made a difference. They've got charm and the characters are lovable, they can get away with anyone. So that's a lesson in how to do it. They're the main ones, I would say."

In Extras a while ago, it seemed like Ricky Gervais was taking a swipe at catchphrases in comedy - with the 'you havin' a laugh' bits. What's your take on that?
"Thing is, I find that really funny, and what's so annoying is that he's criticising catchphrases and he's come up with a brilliant one himself! I've watched that sitcom, I've watched 'When The Whistle Blows'."

With Keith Chegwin in a starring role...
"With Keith Chegwin, that'd be good. There's a certain perception that catchphrases are not as good as other forms of comedy. I like catchphrase comedy myself - I also like watching programmes like The Office and Extras. It just depends on what your tastes are. What's so wrong if kids in the playground like it and they have things to shout out? It's a good thing, it's introducing them to comedy. Yeah, things like The Fast Show were fantastically clever as well, you can do both."

I've read you used to work as a scriptwriter on Breakfast TV.
"I did work on the Big Breakfast as a researcher, and then I worked on a terrible breakfast show called RI:SE, only for a month though. They said it was scriptwriting, it was more assembling...I had to start work at 2am, it was really bizarre. I had to go to somewhere s**t like Isleworth, and you were driving your car past people coming back from parties and you just thought 'this is no way to live'! It was only for a month though. I worked on programmes like the Big Breakfast and entertainment programmes for a while."

Did you ever look at Johnny Vaughn or whoever and think 'I should be in front of the cameras, not these people'?
"I didn't think that, because they're presenters, and that wasn't really [the problem]. I wanted to do comedy. It was just really good experience. I was working there when it was Johnny Vaughn and Denise Van Outen - when I first started it was the one before that - Rick Adams and Sharon Davies. Rick had glasses, dark hair. He was a really nice bloke, but it didn't go down too well."

I'm sure he's got an online fanbase somewhere!
"I wouldn't have gone that far, to be fair!"

Do you have any plans for any new Population 3 material or stage plays?
"No, not at the moment, actually, because we're all busy doing other things. James is touring with Mitchell & Webb at the moment, really. Probably not. They were really fun to do, actually."

Quite a few comedy actors harbour a deep desire to pursue straight acting roles down the line - does this apply to you?
"You know what I'd really love to do - a BBC costume drama or something like that. We'll see. I would like to do that. That would be good. Something with a funny voice, maybe. I mean, if Johnny Vegas can do it, and he was funny and good."

He appeared in The Libertine with Johnny Depp, didn't he?
"He's my shining example. An ideal."

What do you have lined up for the future, generally?
"I've filmed an MTV series with Paul Kaye called Strutter, it's a quiz show but I play the lady-bits in it. It's really funny. He plays this Italian-American...he's a Goodfellas-type bloke who's really aggressive and filthy, and I'm his wife and various other bits. I also do a Radio 4 series called Down The Line, with Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson and Rhys Thomas, and we're doing another series of that starting in a couple of weeks, recording that. That's really fun, it's like a big phone in show and that's the second series of that. Apart from that, I'm trying to write a sitcom script, all by myself. How brave?"

Very brave! Thanks for chatting, Lucy.

Now Digital Spy readers - brace yourselves for the clip! Don't say we didn't warn ya...

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