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Eccentric Berry bears comic fruit

Toast of London star Matt Berry is back with the third series of his hit comedy. But don't expect him to do commentary when the DVD comes out

By Keeley Bolger

Published 14/11/2015

Oddball: Timothy West, Jon Hamm and Matt Berry
Oddball: Timothy West, Jon Hamm and Matt Berry

Matt Berry found himself in a funny predicament last year. The star and co-writer of Channel 4 comedy Toast Of London, which follows the trials and tribulations of puffed-up jobbing actor Steven Toast, was sandwiched between two train passengers reading about the somewhat surprise hit of a show, which won the prestigious Rose d'Or Award for Best Sitcom.

"They pretty much at the same point got to that page about Toast, held that page open for quite a long time with my image and didn't notice at all that they were sat next to that guy," says the actor and musician, who writes the series with Father Ted co-creator Arthur Mathews.

"I remember thinking, 'I've got to get up' and then I thought, 'I can't get up because if I get up, it'll be even worse, I'll just have to stay still'. It was very weird."

Planes, too, can cause socially awkward situations when he sees passengers watching The IT Crowd, in which he played flamboyant boss Douglas Reynholm.

"No one tells you about those sorts of things," says a grinning Berry, who's also known for playing Dixon Bainbridge in The Mighty Boosh.

"It's not a moan, don't get me wrong, it's just odd. Unexpected."

If it feels unexpected, it might be because Toast, with its off-beat humour and brilliantly eccentric names - including Ray Purchase, Clancy Moped and Clem Fandango - is not your average comedy.

But the show has triumphed, with actors and comedians clamouring for a role - and one of the coveted comical names.

This series alone sees plum cameos from Mad Men's Jon Hamm, who Toast falls in love with, Berry's mate Bob Mortimer and Brian Blessed as Toast's dad, who is on his best comic form.

"When you get Brian Blessed, you get Brian Blessed," says Berry, who has previously given Doctor Who's Peter Davison, John Nettles and Queens of the Stone Age rocker Josh Homme cameos.

"There's no button number two, it's just Brian Blessed."

Berry based Toast's many adventures in voiceover land on his own experiences, including doing the voiceover for the closing act of the London 2012 Olympics.

But if Toast is having an impact, Berry is keen to not get swept up in the success.

Although he is making a rare appearance on a chat show (plumping for the "really cool" Lorraine Kelly's couch to return the favour for her appearance in the third series), he harbours no ambitions to tour the panel shows in the name of publicity.

"They're not things I watch and they're not things that I'm interested in," says Bedfordshire-born Berry, with a shrug.

He's also not overly keen on DVD commentary either.

"I don't think people really care about the ins and outs of how it was made or what went into it. Boring!" says the 41-year-old.

"I've always thought that I wouldn't ordinarily listen to commentary unless it's something I'm absolutely fascinated by, and it's by someone who hardly ever talks.

"But on something like comedy, I couldn't give a sh*t what the cast experience is."

Berry found an inventive way to get around doing his commentary for his comedy series Snuff Box.

"I got [the actor] Peter Serafinowicz to do it, and to basically sound like me so you'll think it's me'," he says, laughing.

If he sounds "ungrateful" or "odd" about the by-products of his success, he's not - and readily admits he's not "an expert on British comedy".

"I don't know what's on at the moment or what I'm up against, because I don't watch those sort of things."

Recently, Berry and Mortimer received complaints for their BBC series of comedy shorts Matt Berry Does ... which use footage from nature documentaries with a funny voice-over.

"You've got to think that some of those shots of, I don't know, a pink fox has taken someone six months to wait for and film," says Berry, who's about to release a live album with his band The Maypoles.

"And then for two idiot clowns like me and Bob to belittle it and give it a stupid name and all the rest of it ... I get where they're coming from."

  • Toast of London begins on Channel 4 on Wednesday, 10.30pm

Belfast Telegraph

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