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TV Interview

Russell Tovey, Sarah Solemani 'Him & Her' series three Q&A

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Him & Her: Steve (RUSSELL TOVEY), Becky (SARAH SOLEMANI)

© BBC / Big Talk/Perry Curties

They're back - loveable slobs Steve (Russell Tovey) and Becky (Sarah Solemani) return to our screens this week in the third series of Stefan Golaszewski's acutely observed sitcom Him & Her.

Digital Spy and a few other journos sat down with the show's stars to talk about the new series, which spans the whole of Steve and Becky's romance - a flashback episode shows us the pair's first date, while back in the here-and-now, Steve wants to pop the question...

So Steve's planning to propose to Becky this series...
Russell: "Yeah, that's the main thing going through the series - Steve's trying to find the perfect opportunity to propose to Becky. She's completely unaware - if she subconsciously senses something's going on and clocks it, she doesn't let on to Steve.

"But it's about the battles with all of their friends and family coming around and Steve just trying to prove that he's man enough for her - 'cos no-one else thinks he is! His self-esteem kind of gets broken down..."

Does anyone else find out what Steve's planning?
Russell: "Laura (Kerry Howard) finds out - it's great for the character, it's great TV, but it's awful for Steve! She's so cruel...

"Every character has a bigger journey [this year] - the way the last series ended, Paul (Ricky Champ) was on the verge of running off with a 16-year-old Muslim girl and leaving Laura, then suddenly she's pregnant. It's a nice quality to Paul - he's owning up to being a dad and wants to be there for the kid.

"So that gels them back together again, but obviously there's that friction there... because he hates her! And Shelley (Camille Coduri) and Dan's romance is being explored in this series."

Him & Her: Laura (KERRY HOWARD), Paul (RICKY CHAMP), Steve (RUSSELL TOVEY), Dan (JOE WILKINSON), Jonathan (Neil Edmond), Shelly (CAMILLE CODURI)

© BBC / Big Talk/Perry Curties



Do you feel like Him & Her has grown as a series?
Sarah: When you do a long-running show, you worry that the quality of the scripts is not going to match the first series, but this project is the opposite - it is getting better and better.

"Stefan has really found not only what works for the characters - a strong love story that includes the audience and doesn't isolate them - but he's found a story arc that links the whole series. So instead of six or seven plays, which was essentially what they were in the past two series, this is one big one - we're so excited about this."

Russell: "It's also a slightly broader tone, because the engagement thing is quite a well-trodden idea, but it's still done with Stefan's panache. I think what's great about the show is you can see multiple levels to every character."

Sarah: "If you have a villainous caricature in a sitcom, it tends to be the bitchy girl, who's just a bitch, but Stefan's layered that with... Laura's insecure, she's really needy, she wants to be adored..."

Russell: "There's an episode where we go back in time - we see Steve and Dan meet for the first time and you get to actually see the relationship between them, pre-Becky. They've got quite a nice blokey relationship and Steve actually talks fondly to Becky about hanging out with Dan!"

Him & Her: Dan (JOE WILKINSON), Shelly (CAMILLE CODURI), Steve (RUSSELL TOVEY), Becky (SARAH SOLEMANI), Laura (KERRY HOWARD), Paul (RICKY CHAMP)

© BBC / Big Talk/Perry Curties



What was it like going back to explore these characters' pasts?
Russell: "It was so weird but brilliant fun. It was just me and Sarah for a lot of it and it felt like the pilot. We did a pilot that was never televised and it was just me and her. Originally when Stefan came up with the concept, it was just going to be Steve and Becky - him and her - and everything else would be 'noises off'."

Sarah: "It was so nice to revisit that feeling... I've been seeing someone for six years and to knock on the door of someone that you really fancy and hoping it's going to go well... it's just unbearable! But it was lovely to go back to that place - it's a charming episode. I think it's my favourite."

Do you think Steve and Becky will ever sort their lives out, get jobs and so on?
Sarah: "We did This Morning last year and Philip Schofield said, 'You're a pair of lazy, disgusting, horrible layabouts' and we were like... 'Oh, we quite like them!'

"I mean, on the surface, they're slobs, but they're incredibly loyal. They're people watchers and they love sharing what they've observed, so they've sort of collected this motley crew!"

Russell: "I think at some point they know that they've got to get their act together but they're just very content at the moment and there's no rush. If there's another series and they get engaged, maybe it's time to start thinking about families... but at the minute, they're still kind of man-children!"

Him & Her: Steve (RUSSELL TOVEY), Paul (RICKY CHAMP)

© BBC / Big Talk/Perry Curties



Stefan writes every episode and you've also had the same director - Richard Laxton - for all three series. Is that helpful?
Russell: "It's helpful because it's a proper little family and we're creating it all together. We trust Richard's direction and Stefan's scripts, and Richard and Stefan work incredibly well together. Stefan's the quiet man on set, but they sort of share direction and I think Richard loves that. If it was a new director each episode, they might try and put their own stamp on it tonally.

"Somedays it's quite tough, because Richard's a very thorough director - it can sometimes challenge your instincts... and your confidence! But the fact is, we know the end product is so great, so we have to go with that and trust that. If an actor doesn't know this show, they might come in and play it as just comedy - they think it's like Two Pints level and it's quite broad."

A lot of UK comedies - Gavin & Stacey, Rev, Pulling - are being remade for US TV. Do you think there could be an American Him & Her?
Russell: "I think it could be translated to America, absolutely, because there's people on the bottom rung of society but charming - they exist. We've both got representation in America because of this show, so tonally people really got it. I think it could transfer because this couple is universal - it's a point in one's life that most people have experienced."

Sarah: "I'd say the same. It's a universal story about two people who have nothing but love for each other. It's going to be recognised anywhere in the world, especially now because of austerity measures.

"I think the disparity between the US and the UK in terms of comedy has really shifted. A case in point is [HBO series] Girls - to me, Girls is a British show. That's the kind of thing we produce, and they got there first!

"Hollywood is embracing a show with a girl who is not skinny, not conventionally pretty, is having uncomfortable sex - and they love it! So I think our show could go down well."

Russell: "You can be played by Nicki Minaj, I can be Eminem!"

Him & Her returns to BBC Three on Sunday (November 18) at 10pm. Series two is now available to buy on DVD.

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