Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon's Spanish road trip: 'People ask what the food was like, but that's the last thing on my mind'
Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon are back for another foodie-themed road trip, this time eating and bickering their way through Spain. The pair share their musings on ageing and playing for laughs. By Susan Griffin.
Now the clocks have gone forward, thoughts turn to summer getaways, so it's the perfect time to embark on a Spanish adventure with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon, with the third series of The Trip.
For their first outing, in 2010, the pair travelled to the Lake District, and, in 2014, ventured to Italy. Now the duo - who appear as exaggerated versions of themselves in the award-winning series - are setting out on a coast-to-coast odyssey, taking in food, culture and history on their 1000-mile road trip from Santander to Malaga.
Here, Coogan and Brydon reflect on the journey.
It was a "very easy" decision for Brydon to return for a third series. "No arms needed to be twisted," says the Welshman. "I like the fact there's a decent length of time between each series, so that we look older and perhaps a little more battered."
In the second series, his character enjoyed a holiday romance, but this time he's settled down. "I think that was what a Tory politician would call 'a moment of madness'," dead-pans Brydon, (51).
And despite the seemingly free-flowing conversation and improvisation, this does involve preparation.
"Every time we've done The Trip, I've thought ahead a bit, done some research and learned a few new voices," says the actor and comedian, who starred in Gavin & Stacey. "I thought it would be quite funny to do Andy Murray talking about the meal he's just eaten in the same way he talks about the match he's just played."
He also "stumbled upon" Bee Gees frontman Barry Gibb, which made Coogan laugh, "so I did a lot of him".
"People always ask me what the food was like but, to be honest, that is the last thing on my mind during a scene. I'm thinking about what I'm going to say and asking myself if I am going to be funny," reveals Brydon, who insists making the show is harder than it looks.
"On many levels, of course, it is a jolly, but equally there is pressure. You're constantly in a state of trying to invent some fiction. Or a half truth, or find a truth and bend it a little bit to make it interesting."
Not least during their musings on ageing.
"I think that's what it's all about. In series one, we were in our mid-40s, and I would say that is perhaps when the decline begins. Somebody of 70 may scoff at this, but I think Steve and I both feel that. We both feel the passing of the years and that is something we talk about."
Coogan believes the show's appeal lies in its universal themes. "It has to mean something to other people, so it's about middle-age and getting older, life and family life, love and unrequited love," says the actor (51), who describes the on-screen conversations between himself and Brydon as akin to "sparring".
"You put your gloves on and your gum shield in and we have a little round. It's quite frenetic, the pace of the whole thing, but it's also very enjoyable and we got to see a lot of Spain, so what's not to like?"
In terms of preparation, "we might learn quotes from books that we're supposed to be referencing, or discuss doing a new impersonation, but I don't stand in front of the mirror practising impressions," says Coogan.
There's also the trust he and Brydon share.
"If he goes off on a tangent, I will follow him, or he will follow me, so it's a lot of fun... Rob probably makes me laugh more than I make him laugh. He's probably more naturally funny than I am," he muses. "I'm the more cantankerous one and he's more flippant - although we exaggerate these things quite a lot."
But the comedy's often the result of friction.
"We have moments where we agree about things, and moments where we're a bit tetchy," says Coogan. "We play it more like a married couple."
The Trip begins on Sky Atlantic on Thursday, April 6 at 10pm