Hospital-set sitcom Porters is back for a second series.
Whether it's a urine sample, a complaining patient or a dead body - if it's in St. Etheldreda's Hospital, you'll need a porter to move it. Unfortunately, they've usually got better things to do. Like accidentally sabotaging multi-million-pound robots or running from escaped convicts.
Series 2 sees the return of Simon (Ed Easton) and Frankie (Susan Wokoma). Meanwhile Tillman (Rutger Hauer) has decided to leave the country and visit the Dalai Lama, and so this series we get to meet Anthony (Daniel Mays): the experienced, fast-talking, wheeler-dealer who takes Simon under his wing.
The six new episodes also see the return of the lovely Nurse Lucy (Claudia Jessie), Sanjeev Bhaskar's Dr Pradeep, and introduces Dr Bartholomew, played by Sinead Keenan and security-keen Alice (Siobhan McSweeney). Also look out for Sally Lindsay, who pops up again as Simon's mum.
How does it feel to be back?
Ed: It's so nice being back with everybody. Claudia and Susie are so much fun to work with. It feels weird fitting back in to all of it. It doesn't feel like work when you're working with good people.
Claudia: I'm really pleased and mostly pleased because I love everybody on the job so I get to see beautiful people again. I just think people are way more comfortable with each other. We kind of connected really quickly on the first series and so this year it's coming in with that but with a bigger deeper understanding of our characters and more playing with the script. Probably because you know each other better you have more freedom to know what they're going to do. I feel like I know what Ed's going to do as Simon, and I feel like Susie and I have an understanding between the two of us so it makes it more natural. And then Danny [Mays] slips in really beautifully.
Susan: It feels like all the characters have remained emotionally in the same place, and the exact same silliness in the first three episodes is expanded over six.
Rutger: Wonderful, crazy, nice, warm, funny.
Tell us a bit about your character, and what they go through?
Sanjeev: He's a mad character that pops up in very mad situations. So whether it's him having a breakdown, whether it's him getting involved in a sperm donation, maybe it's him losing his nerve as a surgeon - all of those things are incredibly fluid. What's one of the fun things actually is that it changes on the day as well. It's a very open set. Vadim Jean, who's directing it, keeps it very light and very fun but very open to ideas coming in and stuff like that. So even though I have a rough idea of what Mr Pradeep goes through in this, I have no idea where it will end up.
Sally: So I play Simon's mum. Linda is quite voracious, sexually. She has a boyfriend who's she's madly in love with called Muz, and they're trying for a baby so there's lots of activity going on right over Simon's head, in their bedroom right next to his room. It's all mortifying.
Ed: I don't think anything's changed for him [Simon] in the interim period. He's literally stayed exactly where he is. So basically his character arc is remaining where he is at all times, which is a state of panic. So much this time that it feels like the writer hates me with the amount of stuff Simon goes through!
Claudia: I feel like Lucy is a lot more knowing than she was last year. She sort of marches to the beat of her own drum and where I feel like last year everything was so innocent and oblivious, I feel like she is now more willing to play with Simon's emotions and embarrass him a bit more.
Sinead: She does tend to just speed in and speed out - it's like Dr Bartholomew has another show going on somewhere else. She's always mid flounce between one ward to another or one patient to another. She has worked in the NHS for a good while so knows exactly how it does and doesn't work; and basically it's head down, get the job done to the best of her ability. But I'd say she's probably had about five hours sleep in the last year and a half.
Daniel: Anthony is the new porter on the block. I would probably describe him as a jack-of-all-trades and he'd probably describe himself as that. He's a very funny character hopefully, but he's kind of a complete and utter bullshitter. He professes to everyone that he comes from a military background and he's served lots of tours of duty in Basra and places like that. He's very keen on psychology and will try to get in to peoples' minds. He's very popular around the hospital and doing deals and everything so he has this kind of sanctimonious egocentric air to him, which obviously lends itself to him hopefully being very funny. I personally think he just lives at home with his mum and it's all just bullshit. But that's a great thing and I think what we've tried to play with throughout the series is 'do you believe him or do you not?'
Susan: So Frankie, when we meet her, she's not very happy with Danny's character Anthony being in the hospital because they are past rivals. So you see her trying to get around or over that. Then a whole host of things happen that are really cool. There's an underground women's fight club in the hospital, there's a serial killer in the hospital that Frankie has to get to grips with to say the least. And then we find out that actually there's more to Frankie than we thought in that she is a very capable medical student, should she want to go to medical school.
Siobhan: I play Alice who's the head of security and she's a gentle, kind, soft soul - but she's not, she's an absolute monster of a woman, which is wonderful to play! She's very aggressive and hard and takes her job very seriously.
Rutger: Maybe he [Tillman] has a sort of burnout where he decides that he feels old and he doesn't know enough so he decides to go and see an old friend in Nepal that happens to be the Dalai Llama. And the Dalai Llama is quite a part of the film so I think that's very funny.
What's it like filming in the hospital?
Ed: It feels great; really good. It's sort of weird because the first day we filmed on a golf course so it felt like having class outside but you haven't gone in to school yet. It's really nice and fun to be back in a hospital. What does everyone else say?!
Sally: Well I think shooting in a real hospital is quite amazing because the atmosphere is exactly the same as a real hospital so there are no frills or lovely places to sit. It's sort of like working in an NHS hospital so you think 'blimey, those NHS staff really get it don't they'.
Sinead: It's not necessarily a hospital I would want to be treated in, with all due respect! Certainly they're a lively set of porters. I would steer well clear essentially.
Daniel: The first impressions of the hospital is that they've hit it out of the park to be quite honest - it's obviously a working hospital, that's the first thing that hit me when I arrived for day one. It looks great; the sets and the way that the whole world has been realised is second to none. It just adds that air of authenticity to the whole show.
How has it been working with the other cast?
Sally: Ed and Claudia are fabulous; they're future comedy aren't they, you can see they're brilliant. Interestingly, I did a stand-up thing with Ed two weeks before I was asked to do this show, and he was wearing a sequinned leotard and I was dressed as Boy George.
Sinead: Great people to have. Danny Mays, I mean God. It's a brilliant line up of guests too - Siobhan McSweeney - we all love Siobhan. Everyone's brilliant. Claudia, Ed and Susan are just brilliant and young and funny, which is all you want really.
Susan: I love working with Ed and Claudia, they're so cool. We had a really good time. Weirdly Series 1 felt it was about six weeks, but it was only about three weeks that we shot, so to have a good amount of time with those two this series is just a joy because they're just so funny. Danny Mays has been great; he's been a bit of a last minute addition but has just slotted in and I've always loved his work. I only really knew his drama work so to be on set with him and see how funny he can be as well as just a really lovely bloke.
Daniel: All three of them are proper unique talents. I think they have such a specific quality about them and they've just blown me away. They're just top-drawer comedy actors as well as obviously serious actors as well. They can bring great pathos to a scene but it was clear from the rehearsals and day one that they all had a great rapport with one another. They're all joyous and fun to work with and hopefully it will continue, who knows!
Siobhan: All hail the great Sally; she's wonderful. As well as the writing but just the calibre of cast associated with it is extraordinary. They're all just wonderful; I've loved their work, they're so funny. It's pretty hard to keep a straight face during the scenes.
Ed: Danny Mays is amazing. He's really good and he's fitted in really well so it's super fun to be with everybody.
Claudia: Danny is amazing. We know him to be a really great serious actor but he's obviously a very good comedy actor as well, which is lovely and he's good fun to have on set. And he's very loud! Very loud. It's lovely.