Interview: Matt Berry

News: More Toast For Matt Berry – When He Has Time

I interviewed Matt Berry last month at Channel 4's offices near Victoria to tie in with the new series of Toast, which goes out on C4 on Wednesdays at 10.30pm. You can read the Evening Standard feature here, but this is a longer version. To be honest I found Berry rather frustratingly guarded. He didn't seem to want to give too much away about himself which was fair enough, but he was also pretty dismissive of accusations of Toast's sexism on social media. Of course it's ironic, as he says, but it's a theme that seems to have run through his work. Take a look at him in Snuff Box here from almost a decade ago. He was also reluctant to talk about the end of House of Fools (the interview took place before Bob's heart operation). Despite the fact that I'd heard that Bob Mortimer was apparently not exactly chuffed that there would not be another series Berry seemed to be claiming that it had been their decision not to continue. Anyway, it was nice to meet Berry and I love Toast but doing this interview reminded me why I don't really like doing interviews these days in this media-trained age. Having said that, he was more fun that I would imagine One Direction would be.


BTJ: Jon Hamm is in episode 3, which is called Hamm on Toast. That’s a heck of a scoop.


MB: He is definitely the focal point of the episode, which is hilarious. I’d met him a few times and I knew that he liked the show so it wasn’t a thing to ask out of the blue. I met him at the Emmys last year. He came over especially for it. He would have been in it for tuppence. 


BTJ: What’s the storyline?


MB: He’s in town being himself and I’m not interested because I’ve never heard of him, but previously I’ve fallen and hit my head. I see him in the club and I immediately fall under his spell. It’s just a silly way to get him in there.


BTJ: Any other big names in the third series?


MB: Bob Monkhouse.


BTJ: I thought he was dead?


MB: We’ve got this actor Simon who makes a living out of being Bob Monkhouse. I’d seen him do something and thought he is so much like Bob Monkhouse we’ve got to have him in it.


BTJ: You write with Arthur Mathews, are you the pacer or the typer? 


MB: Arthur is in Dublin at a desk doing it properly, I’m in my bed on an iPad. I guess that’s the modern version of pacing and typing.


The writing takes shape over the year, I guess because we both know Toast so well now if anything happens in the news we think how would Toast deal with that? Like lamping with rabbits, I had to endure that as a kid and I remember the pain and the suffering that went with that so I thought it would be great to see Toast in the back of a Landrover putting up with that, so we had a bunch of stuff, unconnected, that just needs sorting out.


BTJ: What’s lamping?


MB: It usually takes place of golf courses, they shoot the rabbit and throw the half dead one in the back. My uncle and my dad used to take me. Paul Whitehouse plays a farmer. There isn’t any male stereotype he can’t do. There’s no vanity. Like Vic and Bob, they can do anything you want them to do.


Bob Mortimer is in this series too. He plays himself. And Vic comperes the 1972 beauty competition episode (We weren’t allowed to call it Miss World). 


BTJ: I’ve seen accusations on Twitter that Toast is sexist. What’s your response?


MB: I haven’t seen that. I don’t care, I think it’s obviously ironic. It’s just him, he is dodgy in that way. We set this when we want to set it, not now, more late 70s, early ‘80s. A London that doesn’t exist any more. It’s not modern values. I would hope that anyone that does see it will get it, it’s a kind of knowing wink.


You look at these old actors went about their business in the Coach and Horses in Soho, it all just comes from there. It was a time when you could get pissed on a job, now of course you can’t, but back then you could, it just isn’t done, you have to get up too early and work too hard.


He’s in that kind of world that doesn’t exist any more. If we did him as a struggling actor now I don’t think he would have as much to work with. You couldn’t go back to a job after lunch roaring pissed or you would never be asked back. I think you could then.


Interview continues here.

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