Interview: Asim Chaudhry & Vicki Pepperdine On C4 Sitcom High And Dry

Asim Chaudhry plays Arnab and Vicki Pepperdine plays Harriet in the new sitcom High & Dry, which starts on C4 on May 4 at 10.30pm. Read more about it here.

 

Explain a little bit about High and Dry, what’s the show’s concept?

It’s about being stuck with people who you’d never normally be stuck with in real life, on a desert island. Ultimately, I think the show has ambitions to do something big, like the Americans do, without taking ourselves too seriously. The show is completely bonkers, it’s not exactly rooted in reality, which I think is fun sometimes. So much British comedy is about realism, but at the end of the day, this show is big and ridiculous. It’s like shows like Eastbound and Down, they’re not realistic at all, they’re completely bonkers. This show is not afraid to be big, and Marc’s comedy is always pushing that kind of boundary. It’s bonkers but it’s fun, it’s really entertaining. It might not be up everyone’s alley, not everyone likes this kind of comedy, but I think an awful lot of people are going to enjoy this.

 

You play Arnab – how would you describe him?

Arnab is one of those guys who just lives in his own world. He’s really sweet and completely delusional. He’s not self-aware at all, which always makes for a really fun character. I’ve been workshopping this show with Marc for a while – we started this three or four years ago – and Arnab just came from that loveable sort of character who’s into video games and movies and loves horror films, but really has a heart. He’s had his duties with his family and working with them in the shop, so he’s never really fitted in in the outside world. He finds it hard to distinguish sometimes between fiction and reality. But he’s really just a loveable puppy, that’s how I played him. Wide-eyed, always excited, but with a little bit of an edge to him which emerges sometimes. He’s a loveable loser, like a lot of characters I play, and he’s got this puppy dog side to him, and I think when you watch it you can’t help but like the guy. Even though he’s a complete fucking idiot.

 

You filmed in the Seychelles – how was that experience?

Even the way you say that, it sounds like you’re really thinking “You fucking arsehole, you filmed in the Seychelles.” And that’s what my friends and family were like, they were really jealous. They all saw it as paradise, but I would say the experience was pretty much the opposite. It was such a tight schedule; it was six episodes in four weeks, which is unheard of. The standard is one week per episode, and even that involves loads of rushing around. We were working six day weeks, ten hour days, it was just exhausting. And on the day we had off, we were working. I mean, sure, we were in a beautiful hotel in a beautiful country, but it was hard work. Our commute every day was a bus, then a boat, then another boat. The boat hit a shark once. And in the first few weeks we were doing night shoots, which were terrifying. Getting into the water in a little dinghy when it as pitch black! It was frightening. And that’s without mentioning that it was haunted.

 

I’m sorry. Did you say ‘haunted’?

Yeah. We went to our green room, which was just a little bit of forest. And I had a look around the corner, and I see this baby doll lying there, but its eyes had been taken out, and there were loads of crosses and ritualistic cult stuff all over it. I assumed it was a prop, and I said to one of the art department “By the way, you did a really good job on that voodoo baby.” And Anna was like “What voodoo baby?” And there was a rope hanging from the tree. So I asked one of the locals who was helping us what it was all about. And he told me some guy had discovered his pregnant wife was cheating on him, and had gone mad. He took her to right where we were filming, and he killed her and hung himself. And the rope is still there on the tree. It was pretty terrifying! And another time me and Harry Peacock and Grace Rex got completely wiped out by a freak wave. We missed coral by inches, Harry’s leg got split open, it was all very real. But it was also a real adventure, an incredible experience. And at the end, we all looked at each other and said “You know what, if we can do this shit, and remember our lines and out on a performance and improvise, we can do anything.” And since that show, I haven’t complained about anything.

 

You’re known to a lot of people as Chabuddy G – what kind of a reaction do you get when you’re out and about?

It depends. Most people comment on the fact that I don’t speak like Chabuddy G, which I suppose is sort of a compliment, people almost believe the character is real. It’s good; most of the time people are really nice. Sometimes I get some very questionable accents from white men. And I’m like “Oh God, please don’t do that!” I was watching that documentary “The Problem with Apu” about Apu from The Simpsons, who’s voiced by a white guy, Hank Azaria. What I think is this – if you can do Indian accents, if you can come and do a good Chabuddy impression, that’s cool. Your intentions are good, you’re probably a fan of the show, you’re not taking the piss. But if the accent is shit, it’s not going to be received well. But if it’s good, and you practised it and put the research into it, and you come up to me and do a brilliant accent, I’m gonna love it! But if it’s a bad accent – come on, man,. Like Apu – no-one talks like that. So it’s about doing it justice and having the respect to get it right. I am always happy for people to come over, because one day people won’t give a shit, but please don’t do a really bad Indian accent. Work at it, learn, do a good one, and I’ll do one with you.

 

You’ve either won or been nominated for a number of awards for that role – how does that feel?

At the end of the day, accolades are amazing and really humbling, but it doesn’t really mean anything. I’ve been on panels before; I know what the process is like. It’s just about the feeling in the room. So that should never ever validate your performance or your work. Unfortunately in our industry, as soon as you win a Bafta everyone suddenly wants to work with you. But you’re still the same guy.

 

How do you think you would fare, marooned on a desert island?

I would die within the first few days. I’m so shit at anything to do with my hands. I never went camping when I was a kid – I’m from Hounslow, it’s a bit of a concrete jungle. In my old house, I bought a trampoline for my little sister, and I couldn’t build it. It was there for a month, and I ended up paying a Polish guy to come and build it for me. I’m terrible. But I’ve got a lot of fat on me, so that would probably keep me going for a bit. But I will 100 per cent die, and everyone will be feasting on me.

 

Which of the cast would fare best?

I think Grace Rex would do well. She’s quirky and weird in a wonderful way, always making weird things, and finding stuff. She made a shell necklace. She’s quite inventive. I think she’d do well. And Harry Peacock, he is fucking ripped. He would do really well in building and hunting and protecting you.

 

It becomes clear on the show that the worst thing about being marooned would be if you were stuck with awful people. Who would you choose to be marooned with?

Dead or alive? I think I’d say David Attenborough. The obvious choice would be Bear Grylls, but I think David Attenborough, because you’d have a wealth of knowledge, calm, rational thinking, and he’s just like your grandad, isn’t he? He’ll give you Werther’s Originals and tell you stories. You might die, because he’s pretty old and frail, but what a way to go…

Read an interview with Vicki Pepperdine here.

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