Produced in mock-documentary style, Come Fly with Me is set in an airport and stars Lucas and Walliams in various roles, interacting with staff and public. The series, launched on BBC1, Christmas Day, is co-produced by the BBC and Little Britain Productions. Walliams (left) spoke with MIPCOM News Editor Julian Newby on set
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Are there a lot of restrictions filming in a real airport?
We’ve been filming in Stanstead Airport (Essex, UK) and also Robin Hood airport in Doncaster, and yes it’s hard to film in such a busy environment, but it does add a much-needed realism to it, because it’s a very hard thing to do, fake an airport. We knew that viewers were going to know if it didn’t look right, and it would undermine the reality of the show. So we’ve been trying to do it guerrilla-style, so in the background in a lot of the shots you will see real people. If we are filming ‘air side’, we have got to go through security, and that takes a lot of time. Also we have to keep showing our passports and a lot of the time we don’t look like anything we do in our passport photographs because, for example, we might have heavy prosthetics on. We have to have chaperones with us all the time too, because of security issues. Logistically it has been tough but we knew we had to make it as real as possible. We knew that unless you saw a real airport, the whole thing would look quite fake.
You have some big names in the show, celebrities who ‘just happen’ to be at the airport.
Yes we do have some international stars, as you sometimes do in those real documentaries about airports. I remember watching the real Airport (UK reality series about day-to-day life in an airport) and Quincy Jones came walking through, and one of the people in the film is saying ‘I’ve never heard of him!’ We did want to reflect that. So every week we’ll have a special guest star.
Little Britain was a huge success in the UK and abroad. Is it a hard act to follow?
Yes, and we do have to consider that. But also, we are still the same people, we still feel that we are able to deliver laughs to an audience, so we are not too worried about it. I think it was time to deliver something totally fresh, and also not have any connection to any of the Little Britain characters. We considered that but then we thought it would be good to have a complete break from Little Britain and give the audience something totally new. And we have done that. We’ve created a completely new cast of characters.
Do you consider overseas audiences when writing and performing?
You can’t worry too much when you are doing each individual scene — like saying, ‘Right, how is this going to play in Botswana?’. You just have to do what you think is funny. When I, as a British person, watch an American show – Seinfeld or something – I might not get every reference but I still kind of enjoy it. So we just follow our instincts as to what we think is funny, in the hope that other people find it funny too.
I’ve seen Vicky Pollard dubbed in German, and Japanese too. It’s amazing. You create this character of a teenager from Bristol and a few years later you witnessed it being dubbed into Japanese. And you think, people sitting in Tokyo can’t possibly understand the references. A lot of them wouldn’t even have heard of (south west British city) Bristol, would they? Or know what an ASBO (Antisocial Behaviour Order) is? But somehow they just enjoy her and you can’t really argue with that.
photo: David Walliams and Matt Lucas in Come Fly With Me. ©BBC