NEW INTERVIEW: Staged Q&A with David Tennant and Michael Sheen

The second series of Staged begins on Monday 4th January on BBC One at 9.45pm. The full series will drop on BBC iPlayer directly after. 

The new series sees David Tennant and Michael Sheen attempt to navigate their ‘new normal’ at home with their increasingly exasperated families whilst simultaneously trying to tackle the world of ‘virtual Hollywood’ and their ever more fragile egos.

Also returning for the new series are Georgia Tennant, Anna Lundberg and Lucy Eaton alongside Nina Sosanya and Simon Evans with new addition to the regular cast Primetime Emmy-winner Ben Schwartz, playing the assistant to Michael and David’s American agent.

Following on from the surprise appearances in series one of Judi Dench and Samuel L Jackson this series sees the regulars joined in their virtual hell by a whole host of unexpected guests.

The series hopes to capture our shared feelings of frustration and confusion at a world not quite ready to re-open. Moments that promise normality dashed before they can take hold. The tantalising prospect of comfort kept at bay.

What can you tell us about the new series of Staged?

Michael: David and I are still being ridiculous with and about each other - that’s still very much the tone of it. We have a lot of amazing surprise appearances which I hope people will enjoy as much as David and I enjoyed doing the scenes with them.

David: It’s the same set up as before. Michael Sheen and I talking rubbish to each other over the internet from our respective homes, with Georgia and Anna, our other halves, keeping us from becoming too self-indulgent, not always successfully. But there is a bit of a twist to it all, which I’m not going to reveal here...

In the show you play exaggerated versions of yourselves, are you anything like these characters in real life?

David: I imagine not at all, but probably... quite a lot.

Michael: I think David would say that he's not at all like his character in the first series. Whereas I would say, I probably am quite like that. But I think between the two series, there's a slightly more representative version of ourselves emerging, or at least that's what I would say anyway.

Why do you think the first series was so popular?

Michael: We didn't take ourselves too seriously and made fun of ourselves - I think people enjoyed that. I'm using the sort of format and medium that everyone is using. Having to do calls on Zoom and all that kind of stuff - so we've been able to tap into what's funny and absurd about that as well. Also, having lovely surprises like Judi Dench and Samuel L. Jackson, we have lots more of those surprises in this new series.

David: People seemed to recognise what the characters were going through. Not the specifics of being an actor in lockdown as such, but the sense of helplessness, the frustrations and occasional joys of being stuck at home while the world trundled on. That and the fact that Simon wrote a really funny script - I mean without that we’d have been stuffed.

Did you think you’d be back for another series?

David: If you had told me a year ago that I’d end up making a series for BBC One from inside our house, without a crew, wearing my own clothes and being entirely responsible for turning the camera on and off I would have found it wholly implausible, so the idea that we would do it twice is just one of the many unpredictable eventualities that this weird, weird year has presented.

Michael: I certainly thought that if it went down quite well then there was no reason why we couldn't do more, because it was such an innovative way to make a series - filming in my kitchen with just the laptop and a smartphone. It was very nice to come back and do more of it.

What was it like working with your partners?

David: The scenes between Georgia and myself had to be fitted in around school drop-offs, baby naps and unloading the dishwasher, so there is a certain urgency to getting them done but we have really enjoyed making Staged together and we do laugh a lot - perhaps it’s the sleep deprivation.

Michael: I thoroughly enjoyed it, it was great. The difficulty for Anna and I was that one of us had to go and look after the baby, so that presented a bit of a challenge and limited how much we could do together. But the positive side of this was that it meant Anna could do more scenes with other people. So, there's more scenes between Anna and Georgia, Lucy and Simon as well. It was lovely not taking ourselves too seriously and to play around with it.

Will any of your children be making an appearance in the new series?

Michael: There’s that fantastic moment in the first series where you see David and Georgia's daughter in the background coming down the stairs and then going back up the stairs - that's very funny. I'm sure you can hear Lyra in the background of some scenes; you’ll have to be eagle-eyed and eagle-eared for that.

David: No, I think they find it slightly risible that mum and dad are making a TV show from the house and are mostly just annoyed when we tell them to be quiet for a take.

What can you tell us about working with the guest stars?

David: Well I think it’s out there that we have Ben Schwartz joining us this series, playing the assistant to Michael and my US agent. I’ve known Ben for a few years now, we both play the voices of ducks on Disney’s Duck Tales. Ben is very very funny and is a master at comic improvisation. Michael and I both had to sprint to keep up with him once he started going off script. Recording those scenes was a particular joy. But beyond that I’m saying nothing - that would spoil some nice surprises.

Michael: In the first series one of the most enjoyable things was being able to do a scene with Dame Judi and with Samuel L. Jackson. In this series we have plenty more where that came from and it was an absolute joy - a real thrill! We have some special guests this series who David and I both enjoy the work of. I hope the audience enjoy it half as much as we did and also see that it's not just us who have difficulty with the technical stuff!