WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR SLICED COME FROM?
It's weird, it's one of those ones where me and Phil [Bowker] were just walking, near Victoria, and Phil goes, "Sam, what do want to do? What would you want to do if you were going to do a show about yourself?" I was like, "I don't know." Then I just had this thing, because I used to do pizza delivery, back in the day in Pizza Hut, and I just thought to myself, 'Imagine knocking on one of these doors and being invited in.' It's like in Cheers with the bar - the story comes into the bar, doesn't it? So, I was like, 'Imagine if we walk into the story.' There are endless options and story lines you can go down. Plus, delivery is so prominent now, so I was like, 'Let's do a little thing about pizza delivery boys man.' Set up that whole world where the story is the delivery and see where it takes us.
HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE CHARACTERS OF JOSHUA AND RICKY?
Once I came across the thought of it I was like, "I'll play one delivery boy." I've known Theo [Barklem-Biggs] for about eight years so instantly I was like, "Yes, it's got to be Theo, hasn't it?' We met in 2011 through a mutual friend and then the next year we did a pilot in the winter and we just got really close - eight years later we're here.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE JOSHUA?
Joshua is more of the worrier out of the two. Ricky is more free-spirited; he's very much like, "Everything can solve itself if you just stand still. "Where as Joshua is more like, "We need to sort this out now otherwise we're fucked." It's that sort of energy: he's very panicky, he has eczema but he's the worrier, he's the one that wants things to go well. He's not really a lucky person so his fortune is always quite messed up really but he's trying to turn it around. Together they make a really cool partnership because it's like yin and yang. They complement each other in really cool ways.
WHAT IS IT THAT JOSHUA AND RICKY WANT? WHAT ARE THEIR GOALS?
Joshua's is to move out and get a place of his own, get a girlfriend. He's growing up - he's 24 years old - so he wants to settle down with someone and try and just have a girlfriend. Ricky just wants to live life, to enjoy himself, he wants to be Joshua's friend for life. Wherever you go I go, whatever you do I'll do, that sort of relationship. Ultimately, they may have a bigger goal as we lay it down the line. Right now for Joshua it's definitely to find that girl and find that independence for himself.
WHERE DID THE IDEAS FOR STORYLINES COME FROM?
Well for example episode three is a true story. Episode three is madness. There's basically a party that Ricky is invited to, that he brings Joshua to, but it's not the kind of party that they are expecting! And that happened to me in Brixton. Not delivering pizza, just randomly. Obviously, we pushed it into the pizza delivery, but from there everything that happens is factual. Nuts.
AWAY FROM THE FUNNIES SLICED IS ALSO A DEPICTION OF A GENUINE MALE FRIENDSHIP. THAT'S UNUSUAL ON TV.
Yes. Me and Theo are so close, it just made sense. He's such a great actor. We've known each other for so long, and we hang out daily. It just made sense to get someone that I know and have a rapport with, that just gets me and I get him: if we get each other's mindsets then you're already halfway there. The rest of it is just a lot of messing about - because a lot of the time within the scenes there was a lot of improvisation. It helps when your director can see that this is genuine chemistry and keep those things in. It's just those genuine little moments, those gems, that really come out on screen.
ON THE OTHER HAND, DOES FILMING WITH A GOOD MATE MAKE IT HARD TO GET STUFF DONE?
Yes. There's a lot of messing ar ound. They say I'm the worst corpser......but it's funny, ain't it? It's comedy. If you're not laughing, you're in trouble. It was a lot of fun. We did get some days where Phil would be like, "Look, we haven't got time for this." Laurie, our first AD, bless him, he went through it. He was like, "Look, we haven't got time. We really need to get this." I'm like, '"Don't say we need to get it because then we're going to laugh even more. It's not going to work."
WERE THERE ANY PARTICULAR SCENES THAT YOU FOUND IT HARD TO GET THROUGH?
Yes. Any scene with David [Mumeni]. We had many, couldn't do it. I had to tell him to turn around.
HOW DID DAVID'S CHARACTER MARIO COME ABOUT?
We wrote this weird character, the boss man or whatever. David came in to meet for it and literally just blew our minds. We were not expecting what came out of his mouth on that day. We still can't believe the things that he says because he just does his own thing. You just go, "Yep... go." He's just so good, man. He's so good.
WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT SLICED COMPARED TO OTHER CURRENT COMEDY?
I feel like there's a genuine, just a natural, everyday feel to it. It's like we highlight things that you see, like a woman with a pushchair arguing with her son's dad about the rent and how he's got a small penis. You would pass that and just think nothing of it - we wanted to throw little bits of that in it to kind of make it feel like not reality, but an actual everyday occurrence. It's like a subtle authenticity that you just see every day but normally you don't put it in because it doesn't need to be there. We kind of made it so that those things are highlighted. We sprinkle it all through the episodes. There's loads of them: hopefully, people will spot them.
WAS IT ALWAYS YOUR INTENTION TO HAVE A DIVERSE CAST?
Yes, diverse on - screen and behind the camera as well. Like we've got amazing Ruka Johnson doing costume, makeup we had Suzie who's lovely, and she brought on a girl called Crystal who does her thing. We've got loads of cool diverse cast too from every walk of life.
TALKING ABOUT AUTHENTICITY IT LOOKS VERY MUCH LIKE IT IS YOU ON THE MOPED RIDING AROUND...
Yes, that's me bro. They had a car in front with a camera at the back of the boot so you get like my front POV. It was so funny because when we did some montage shots around Peckham I was genuinely seeing my friends. There's like a little kid that I know, it was like twelve o'clock and this little kid weren't in school. If you see in the show, I think we've kept it in where I'm riding and I go, "Why are you not in school?" That kid wasn't in the show, he's just a random kid.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE FOR YOU ON THE MOPED?
It was wicked. It was so cool. Doing what I love to do of course which is acting, it's like a dream come true. It felt so surreal though, because this is the first thing that I've ever written that's had a series. I remember when I did Timewasters, I'd look at Daniel Taylor Lawrence, who created that and I just kept going to him like, "Bro, this came from your head!" Like, "Look at this!" It was kind of weird that now I had that same sort of surreal feeling; so weird to see it coming to life.
HOW HAVE DAVE BEEN TO WORK FOR?
Do you know what's crazy? Pete Thornton [Head of scripted at UKTV], he came in to the edit and watched the episodes. He was like, "Yep, if you feel like you like this, then sweet." It's like I've never seen that. I've never seen an exec come in and even when we did the read through and all that, the execs and stuff were there, they had such minimal notes. They just left us to do our thing because they're just trusting the project. That is always helpful, especially with comedy: it's very easy to oversaturate stuff because you're not sure and you feel you want to make sure it's safe, but I don't like doing safe comedy because I don't think you get the genuine belly laughs. Hopefully, this works and if it does, then it's a testament to them just saying, "Go do your thing, man. We're backing you."
FINAL QUESTION. IS THERE REAL PIZZA IN ALL THOSE PIZZA BOXES?
Yes, there's pizza in the boxes. It was weird because we were like, "Yeah, we're going to have a pizza when we finish filming. What pizza are we going to get?" But when we were done we'd say, "Nah, I can't be arsed. Let's go get a steak, bro."