How did Meet the Richardsons come about?
Lucy: We did Married to a Celebrity on Channel 4, which we really enjoyed as we were basically arguing on TV and found it quite cathartic. Then Lee Hupfield the producer thought it could work as a sitcom and he was so enthusiastic that we trusted him that we could make it work. Jon: I think he could see the backstory; the same as in Seinfeld you see their lives and how it informs their stage act, this is that but our couch scenes are a nugget of an argument and all the rest of it is how real life plays out from that.
How did you feel about cameras invading your home?
Lucy: I loved it. I think I definitely played up to being a bit more of an aggressor. Normally I take a lot of shit and have to back down for a lot of things. I really enjoyed going hammer and tongs and putting Jon in to awkward situations. Like setting him on fire. I really enjoyed that. Jon: It helps you win an argument when it's in a script and it can't be changed. If you arrive on set and there's a pyrotechnics team there you sort of know you're going to get set on fire. Lucy: And it's been great to work with Dave on it. A lot of comics and writers feel that Dave is like a home for comedians. They trust you in a way that years ago when it was just four channels they might have trusted you. It's a safe environment and you genuinely feel like the people you work with really like and get comedy, as well as want to see alternative comedy on TV. They're happy to take risks. Jon: There was a faith in us and the idea from the beginning, and there wasn't a lot of justification of plot lines. It was basically us saying it's us arguing on the couch and snippets of our lives, and them saying let's see what that looks like .
How did the writing process pan out?
Lucy: I co-wrote it with Tim Reid who co-wrote the first series of Car Share with Peter Kay. Tim is a really lovely guy from a tradition of sitcom so it was really good to have him there. A lot of it was taking storylines from things that have happened, almost verbatim from an argument. Jon maybe doesn't even know this but I'd go away and quickly try to remember everything that we both said. Jon: I do know that because sometimes you didn't even go away, you'd transcribe an argument in front of me while we were having it! Lucy: It sometimes got really meta because the lines between the fictional Jon and the real Jon blurred. I agreed for us to do a Dock Pudding competition and I said that Jon was going to be a judge but I forgot to tell the real Jon because I'd told Jon in the script. So it came to the day of filming and he didn't even know he was doing it! That all got a bit weird. Jon: We hadn't even contacted the crew to say this is happening on Sunday, can you please come up and film it. Otherwise she's stitched me up in real life and you're not going to be here to film it so it's all for nothing. So they had to quickly get a train up and film it.
How true is it to your own lives?
Lucy: All of it. Some of the storylines have been heightened for entertainment but it's always real. It's a bit like The Only Way is Essex. Jon's saying Seinfeld and I'm thinking it's not, it's The Only Way Is Essex, it's what they do. Jon: It's not The Only Way Is Essex! Lucy: It's exactly the same thing that they do and there's nothing wrong with saying that. People love it. And they all own beauty salons now so we're going to be all right. You're going to be selling false eyelashes.
Is there really a lot of arguing at home or is there a lot more laughing?
Lucy: It's very rare that I make Jon laugh. He laughs at me more than with me. It's more like 'that was the most bizarre thing I've ever seen'.
Jon: I think we're quite relaxed around each other when we're on our own but when we have guests we both click in to gig mode and work as a double act. I become a heightened version of me and you become a heightened version of you. And we could both do with being heightened let's be honest. I think that's why we like filming together because we look like a normal sized couple on ratio. Lucy: I make you look tall. I knew that's what you liked about me.
You obviously do work well together though...
Jon: Well we've said some horrific things to each other on camera. We've said about all the things that I think in a normal marriage normal people would hold back from. Once you've unleashed them it's a bit like Pandora's box; everything's out and all that's left is a grudging respect for each other and a desire to continue the marriage because we've said awful things! Lucy: I feel more comfortable in a domestic setting where people are arguing. I was brought up to believe if you don't have an argument it's because one of you is keeping something in. I don't know whether it's a Hull thing but you have a big argument and it clears the air. Jon: I'm a bit more don't say it because once you have you can't take it back. I find that it's much better if I don't talk to anyone for a week until the atmosphere becomes so stifling that people just concede that I was probably right about whatever I was upset about anyway. Lucy: I think it's love; I don't think it's coming from a bad place. If you didn't care about someone you wouldn't argue with them. Jon: Or if you really cared you wouldn't argue. It's a flip side of the same coin. Do we argue and threaten to divorce each other on a daily basis because we really get on with each other. Or is there a fundamental problem?
How did your three-year-old daughter Elsie find the whole experience?
Both: She absolutely loved it. Jon: She's just at an age where she can't really remember what went before so she doesn't understand why people have stopped filming every minute of our lives. I think she feels like we've been rejected. She keeps asking when the crew are coming back. She kept asking to be in scenes. Lucy: We didn't want her in it a lot though. She was too good! We don't want her to be the next Shirley Temple. We do need to be careful about how much we expose her. Jon: We had to push back a bit because it would have just become her show. If she's going to be on telly, she's going to do adverts and bring some coin age in. That AA advert with the kid lip-synching to the Tina Turner song - she could have done that. She's confident in expressing herself shall we say. She has a good sense of humour.
How did the locals feel about you filming in Hebden Bridge?
Lucy: I think people know we enjoy living there. We don't take the mick out of it or dumb it down. Happy Valley was set in Hebden Bridge.
Jon: It looks stunning on camera. It's a beautiful valley and there were times when we were filming people would come up with an eyebrow raised and ask what we were doing. But the minute you explained that a body wasn't going
to be found in someone's house they were just relieved it was something positive.
Lucy: That's series four.
Jon: Four? Wow! It is an exceptional place in terms of community spirit - we've never lived anywhere like it. It's been flooded and had difficulties so people have had to look after each other in a way that you don't in other places so we're lucky. This will hopefully add to the pantheon of cultural history of this country.
What do you think people will be most shocked to learn about you?
Jon: I think for me it's how much weight I've gained since we had a child. I think the top of my head has eaten my hair and hair is more calorific than people realise. They might learn how brutal we are about each other. They'll learn about my pub. They'll learn how funny our neighbours are. I can't stress enough they're our real neighbours and they're like that all the time. Lucy: People think they're actors but they're not. They've become like family. Jon: We're very lucky to be able to exploit them for our career.
Lucy you should be on TV more...
Lucy: Ah do you think? Well I have tried! Jon: I sense the coming tide. I get tweets everyday now when someone's catching up on the Christmas Countdown or something and I hear the word 'punching' a lot, and batting above my average. I get told my wife's funnier than me all the time so I'm fine with it. I'm ready. I have a pub in the garden that I need to spend more time in so if my career has to take a back seat then so what? Bring it on. My darts average will increase.
Do you think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to it?
Jon: I hope so. It was never an embellished idea of what a marriage is; it's proper warts and all. Although it sounds weird to say I have a sitcom that Jason Donovan is in that's real and normal. There are a lot of special guests in it like him, Alan Carr and Bernie Clifton but fundamentally it's more about being under the same roof with someone you love but irritates you on a daily basis. That's universal. It's just two people winding each other up.
How did you convince all the celebrities to get involved?
Lucy: It's because of Jon; they trusted that it would be ok because they either know him or work with him. Jon: Rob Beckett was exceptional given that a lot of the joke is that we have this rivalry together. He took that from the beginning and said, say whatever you like about me. There's a line where someone says, 'Rob will do any old shit'! Naturally you have to run that by someone and ask if that's all right and he said absolutely, it's true! Lucy: Everyone we had in it was lovely. I loved getting drunk with Alan Carr. Jon: I supported Alan on his first big tour so when he got offered the scene of basically being therapy for Lucy I think he knew in real life she needed it - he's spent enough time with me to know she genuinely needs a bit of a laugh.
Would you like to do more series?
Lucy: We hope so because it's so enjoyable. Jon: I think if anything it phased the marriage out by increasing the workload, and that's the way we should do it. A few more series of this and then separate houses with an adjoining door. Lucy: Is that really what you think? Jon: It's basically where we are now. I'm mostly in the pub in the garage and you're in our house and then we meet up for a shoot.
What does Elsie do when this is going on?!
Jon: It's a good question! We should check. Auntie Netflix comes to stay. All joking aside we're great parents. Lucy: We've decided we're not going to have any more kids, and we're almost a bit like her older brothers and sisters sometimes. We play a lot and just enjoy being with her. We work hard but we spend a lot of time with her as well. Jon: She calls us 'the gang' the three of us. Work might be intense at the time but then you get long chunks of time together. That's a real privilege.
Can you see yourselves becoming the king and queen of daytime TV?
Jon: I think with daytime there's only a matter of time before you're trending on Twitter for saying something that's been taken out of context. Whereas you have more control with this. It is our lives but ultimately you know you can record something six times then pick the best one and edit it. It feels like the best way for us to work. Lucy: It wouldn't do us any harm to stay away from being like a married Ant and Dec. Jon: I don't think there are many married couples who can do what we've done. But we probably aren't the people who could interview Peter Andre about his upcoming tour. So we'll leave others to that.