Time Out chats with Welsh comedian Rob Brydon as he’s reunited with his acting star pal Steve Coogan to sample culinary delights in BBC2’s The Trip to Italy.
Four years ago, UK comedians and good mates Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan bickered their way around the north of England, sampling local delicacies as they went for Bafta-winning comedy series The Trip. Now they’re back with a sequel in which they tour the culinary gems of Italy, playing themselves, but with their roles reversed. Here, we chat to Rob Brydon about bungee jumping and bonding.
There are great sequels and terrible sequels, as you and Steve acknowledge in The Trip to Italy. Is it more The Godfather Part II, or Grease 2?
‘I’m hoping it’s Grease 2. Something that will only truly be appreciated long after we’re dead. With something like The Trip, it’s like a new album by your favourite artist: it takes a few listens, but if you like it, you’ll go back to it again and again.’
Is the awkwardness between you on screen ever genuine rather than manufactured?
‘It can be genuine. We’re pushing each other’s buttons and now and again one of us will feel the other’s gone too far. But I came away from this feeling like we’d bonded more this time than ever before. The real meals off-camera are far more relaxed: no digs, no impressions. But the truth is, we don’t really see each other much. During filming, during promotion, yes, but we don’t seek each other out. It’s really not that
sort of friendship.’
Are there Rob Brydon groupies out there?
‘Well, I look for them. I’ve not found any yet, but the search continues.’
Do people mistake your on-screen persona for the real you?
‘Undoubtedly. I’m convinced some people thought the last show was a fly-on-the-wall documentary, that me and Steve were just having a little break and the cameras followed us around. The conceit this time is that I’ve got itchy feet and I’m feeling constrained by family life, while Steve’s more content. There’s a line in the last episode, after I’ve got a sizeable part in a Michael Mann film, and I go, ‘Well, what am I going to do here? More panel shows?’ I’m happy with the balance of my work, but subconsciously it must be in there. It’s a weird mix of complete truth, half-truths and out-and-out lies.’
Is there anything you wouldn’t trust Steve to do?
‘If I was bungee jumping, I’d want a professional doing all the knots. I wouldn’t want to put pressure on Steve. He has no formal training in that area, and it would be unfair.’
Where will the next trip take you?
‘I think we should leave it a while – do it in ten years say, so we could see a bit of physical decay. I’d hate to get into diminishing returns, where we’re going through the motions. I’d like to go to Australia.’
The Trip to Italy is available to download on iTunes.