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'We know all our parts inside out'

As Channel 4 dishes up another Friday Night Dinner, Gemma Dunn chats to the show's on-screen brothers Simon Bird & Tom Rosenthal

After two years off-air, award-winning sitcom Friday Night Dinner is back with a fourth helping of comedy - and according to its squabbling stars, it might just be the best course yet.

"What can I say? It is good," enthuses London-born Tom Rosenthal, looking to co-star Simon Bird for back-up.

The Inbetweeners star agrees. "We felt that from reading the scripts first time around," says Bird. "Also, we're all so used to it now and that's really good for comedy, because when you relax with your fellow cast members, you can try stuff out.

"It feels like we know all of the characters inside out, and we know each other's rhythms and performance styles."

This certainly seems to be the case, as the pair - who reprise their roles as brothers Adam (Bird, 31) and Jonny (Rosenthal, 28) in the hit Channel 4 show - have no qualms in continuing their "sibling" taunting off-screen.

As we get acquainted, Bird is mocking Rosenthal's earlier admission that his favourite album of all time is by Rage Against The Machine.

"It is quite weird," he teases. "In combination with his favourite film, which was The Matrix, and the fact he doesn't like sandwiches. Tom's got his quirks."

What does Rosenthal reckon?

"My eccentricities? I guess I talk to myself, if I'm angry, or if I like an accent, or whatever," says the actor, also known for his stint as Marcus in Plebs. "I lose sense of when anyone else is listening, so you overhear me in a corner doing an impression."

"And, when we're on set, you often practise lines in front of the mirror by yourself, as well," quips Bird. "Basically, when we're on set, Tom is constantly talking."

Returning to mum and dad's house (Tamsin Greig of Green Wing and Paul Ritter of Vera) for a Friday night dinner of soup, chicken and "crimble crumble", the Goodman boys will once again have ample opportunity for side-orders of wind-ups and bickering.

This time, viewers can expect to see Jonny in a serious relationship, Adam injuring Jonny after buttering the kitchen floor, mum forced to pretend that her mother has died, "horrible Grandma" returning for more horribleness, and a terrified Jim (Mark Heap) looking after five dogs.

Despite their quick wit, the double act admit they're keen to try their hand at more dramatic roles in the future, too.

"I think it's the only way to have a long and lasting career in the industry," reasons Bird. "I try lots of different things, but there's potential for Friday Night Dinner to be on TV for more years to come ..."

He trails off and Rosenthal jumps in with: "I thought you were going to say there's potential for it to get dramatic!"

"There's no potential for that," Bird retorts with a grin.

As for honouring their roots, both are hoping to enjoy this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe come August. However, much to Rosenthal's disappointment, he'll be on the sidelines.

"I haven't managed to get a show together this year," he explains. "I'm well up for doing one again soon. You miss it when it comes around, and everyone's putting their posters up on Facebook."

Bird concurs: "Yeah, you get pretty jealous, don't you?

"I don't mean 'you'; I mean anyone who has done the Fringe knows how deeply stressful it can be, but also it's massively fun, so you definitely get a slight pang if you're not there not doing a show, which is why I always try and go to watch some stuff."

Does success bring less or more stress, when it comes to heading back on to the stage?

"If anything, doing a live show is more stressful now, because people would actually go and watch it," Bird says, laughing.

"In the early years, there was no reason why anyone would come and watch me do sketches, so you could experiment. .

"Basically, if you put on a comedy show, you are claiming that you can make strangers laugh and that's a big claim to make and it carries with it certain ... "

Rosenthal pipes up to finish the sentence for his co-star.

"Just before you go on, you start to regret that you made that claim."

Friday Night Dinner, Channel 4, Friday, 10pm

Belfast Telegraph


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